SF and Predictive Analytics

I really enjoyed the discussion we had today about Alone Together. Sorin talked about how Target utilizes statistical research in their targeted marketing – you can read more about that here. Comments from Francine and others about getting unsolicited mailings also reminded me of a 1965 sf short story written by Harry Harrison (Soylent Green) called “Not Me, Not Amos Cabot!” about a man in the future who gets catalogs selling funeral products (based on marketers’ predictions of his life expectancy). He calls them up to complain, but they tell them that he probably won’t live much longer. [spoiler ahead] To prove them wrong he changes his lifestyle. Years later he gets another unsolicited magazine – this one directed at senile customers.

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