Humans 93% predictable: research

"We are all equally predictable", says lead scientist

It is possible to determine where you are 93 per cent of the time and an hour into the future, according to research.

The paper, Limits of Predictability in Human Mobility, published in Science magazine, claims a person's habits are so predictable that they can be tracked based on their most frequented locations which are registered by mobile phones.

Location data from mobile phones is stored by phone companies as calls switch reception towers. The most predictable users make an average of one phone call every two hours over a signal area of about 4 kilometres.

Lead author of the paper Chaoming Song, told “we tend to assume that it is much easier to predict the movement of those who travel very little over those who regularly cover thousands of miles... yet we have found that despite our heterogeneity, we are all almost equally predictable”. The findings are true for men and women of all ages in almost any location.

The research from Harvard, NorthEastern (Boston) and Chengdu universities gives weight to claims by security specialists who told Computerworld that Queensland man James Burt - who was fined $1.5 million for uploading the latest Mario game to the Internet - was tracked down in part using mobile phone location data.

Nintendo would not comment on how its clandestine pirate seeking team caught Burt, and several other anti-piracy organisations also refused to discuss how uploaders can be tracked.

The research follows the launch of web site pleaserobme which tracks locations and generates "opportunities" when people are away from their homes, using data collated from public social networking sites. The controversial web site was designed by Barry Borsboom to illustrate the dangers of listing personal information on social networking sites.