The number crunching of the beast

Here’s one for the “bankcard is the devil” conspiracy theorists out there – the ones who think that the interlocking “b”s on your card are a 666…

“Visa, the world’s largest credit card network, can predict how likely you are to get a divorce. There’s no consumer-protection legislation for that.”

Spooky. How do they do this, and why do they care? Good questions. Basically they want to make sure you’re going to pay your debts. They’re mining your data people (but hands up those of you who didn’t know this already). The real conspiracy theorists grow their own vegetables, pay cash only, or barter, and they walk around in dark sunglasses and beanies because of all the secret cameras that are watching their every move… and they don’t join “frequent fliers” clubs, or have loyalty cards, or location tracking mobile phones… and they never use Google.

Companies are building profiles on you – and they no doubt make for really interesting reading. I bought a pair of socks, some deodorant and a razor two nights ago. What does that say about me?

“Cardholders who purchased carbon-monoxide detectors, premium birdseed, and felt pads for the bottoms of their chair legs rarely missed a payment. On the other hand, those who bought cheap motor oil and visited a Montreal pool bar called “Sharx” were a higher risk. “If you show us what you buy, we can tell you who you are, maybe even better than you know yourself,” a former Canadian Tire exec said. “

You better start buying felt pads for your furniture even if you don’t need them. Your credit rating depends on it…

But don’t worry. You too can play this game – finding out things about yourself that you didn’t know before.

The New York-based startup Hunch offers personalized recommendations after users answer a series of questions that give the site a sense of their tastes. Do you live in the suburbs? Do you like bumper cars? Are you more likely to spoon or be spooned? Out of this examination, Hunch generates a “taste profile” for each of its users.

Hunch then looks for statistical correlations between the information that all of its users provide, revealing fascinating links between people’s seemingly unrelated preferences. For instance, Hunch has revealed that people who enjoy dancing are more apt to want to buy a Mac, that people who like The Count on Sesame Street tend to support legalizing marijuana, that pug owners are often fans of The Shawshank Redemption, and that users who prefer aisle seats on planes “spend more money on other people than themselves.”

That’s some useful data right there. But you can game the system, if you’re game. You can take advantage of the “generosity” of Casinos by playing like a poor person if you’re rich… and you’ll score a free dinner.

“With its “Total Rewards” card, Harrah’s casinos track everything that players win and lose, in real time, and then analyze their demographic information to calculate their “pain point”—the maximum amount of money they’re likely to be willing to lose and still come back to the casino in the future. Players who get too close to their pain point are likely to be offered a free dinner that gets them off the casino floor.”

This is all from a review of a book called “Super Crunchers” here at an eerily titled blog – “The Daily Beast”… Spooky.

Databases are the future, friends. The future. So be afraid… as Revelation 13 so clearly says (regarding the beast):

16He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

18This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.

You know what’s even freakier. This post has 666 words.


Nathan says:

For the record, Nero was the beast, and he wouldn't let people shop in the Roman marketplaces unless they (according to B.W Winter) literally wore the mark of the beast in makeup on their hands or foreheads – access to these markets could be restricted by removing the right to bear this mark…

Anonymous says:

I would have been 665 words had you not used the word 'basically' unnecessarily.

Nathan says:

I had to use the word "basically" to get to 666. There was some padding.