If you're like me and have a distinct hatred for fire ants (Hello, Texas), you may occasionally kick over a mound just to see the bajillions of ants moving about in an absolute frenzy. For those of you who have done this, you'll agree that once the top comes off the mound it's just absolute chaos! It looks like rice boiling in water with no pattern discernable whatsoever.
Now what would you say if I told you that every single ant you'll ever find on the face of the Earth has behavior which is absolutely predictable? Yes, in this post we are going to talk for just a bit about predictive analytics. There is a whole scientific practice that is dedicated to the creation of pinpoint predictions about just exactly what is going to happen and when.
Back to the little part about ants from earlier. If you were to do what I suggested and pick an ant to watch for a bit, you most likely would learn nothing about it other than it acted without much repetition. However, if you could view this exact same ant for five days straight (assuming x-ray vision for underground movements) you would start to build up a robust data set of actions. After an interval like this you would become very surprised at just how similar this ant tended to behave. Even accounting for external conditions - changes in climate, temperature, or people kicking over the ant's home - the ant's behavior would be remarkably easy to predict after five days of observation and data collection.
So why is this topic so important that we would need to dedicate a whole blog post to it?
That ant is really you and me. Does that sound completely insane? There is no way that a human's behavior, as complex as it is could possibly be compared to an ant. Right? Wrong.
Humor me for a second and think about a couple of things:
- What you do right before you go to bed // What you do right after you get up
- What do you eat and when do you eat it?
- How often do you see the same car(s) in your daily commute even though you live in an area with thousands/tens-of-thousands/millions of people?
- What pathways do you choose to walk to your most common destinations?
- How do you answer the phone and what do you say when you hang up?
- What do you say when someone sneezes?