The Perils of Predictive Analytics
There was a story last year about how Target predicted that a teenage girl was pregnant, based on her shopping habits, before her parents became aware of the situation.
Target broke through to a new level of customer tracking with the help of statistical genius Andrew Pole, according to a New York Times Magazine cover story by Charles Duhigg.
Pole identified 25 products that when purchased together indicate a women is likely pregnant. The value of this information was that Target could send coupons to the pregnant woman at an expensive and habit-forming period of her life.
I’m reminded of that story every time Amazon makes a bizarre recommendation for me. Today’s amusement was a “pill box”:
I’m going to choose to be amused. This time. The last time… wasn’t so funny. As if I would ever buy pink fuzzy handcuffs!
What sort of “amusing” prediction or recommendation has a business (or government agency – gr33tz to our budz @ No Such Agency!) made for you lately based on tracking of your behavior?