Do computers know us better than we know ourselves?

“No biological or environmental constraints fully determine human thought and action, but neither does any schema or cognitive structure” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 141)

Environmental Perception and Behavioural Geography is concerned with the “behavioral issues that ultimately, through their implications, contribute to long-term knowledge about durable human–environment relations” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 134). This field of geography emerged with the desire of understanding human decision-making in spatial contexts. Initial research was flawed because of its assumptions that individuals had “limited but prominent” goals, but new works aim to comprehend actual persons.

EPBG reminds me of the lecture on agent based modelling. With a refined knowledge of human behaviour, will it be possible to use a GIS to create accurate models of humans?

On the one hand, I am tempted to say that it would be impossible. Much like indigenous knowledge, human behaviour is too unique and versatile to be compatible with a GIS. One of the critiques of EPBG was in fact the “constrained structures in the elicitation of ‘data’” (Amadeo & Golledge, 2003: 142). Because human experience can’t be constrained or understood by binary categories (so far), I hope it will remain outside the realm of science and modeling.

On the other hand, in a world where our location is constantly being recorded through our smart phones, and our interests and preferences can be identified by looking through our Internet history, there seems to be no limit to the data available on humans and our behaviour. If our gender, age, sexual identity, location, can be identified through an analysis of tweets, is there a limit to the power of technology? Do computers actually know us better than we know ourselves?


One Response to “Do computers know us better than we know ourselves?”

  1. site admin says:

    Thanks! Last one in.