When a magazine like Foreign Policy comes up with an article titled 'The Rise of Big Data' you know that something has tumbled out of geekdom to the world of ordinary mortals.
The article talks about 'incredible new uses (of data) with the assistance of inexpensive computer memory, powerful processors, smart algorithms, clever software, and math that borrows from basic statistics'. Instead of trying to “teach” a computer how to do things, the new approach is to feed enough data into a computer so that it can infer the possible answers on its own.
India's ambitious UID project does not find mention here - perhaps its not big enough - but it does describe some amazing new uses of data. One of these is Prof. Shigeomi Koshimizu's "bottom-up" approach to establishing unique identities.
Prof. Shigeomi's team at AIIT-Tokyo placed 360 pressure-sensors on car-seats and found that when a person is seated, the contours of the body, its posture, and its weight distribution can all be quantified and tabulated and converted to a digital code that is unique to each individual!
Perhaps the day is not far when Indian's lining up for their UID cards will be spared the trouble of scanning fingerprints and of staring into machines for iris patterns. They would just have to just sit on a chair while somebody verifies their application and simply walk out with a biometric-id card.. :-)
LINKS & REFERENCES
Cukier, Kenneth Neil and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger (2013): The Rise of Big Data - How It's Changing the Way We Think About the World, Foreign Policy, May/June 2013 -- url -- http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139104/kenneth-neil-cukier-and-viktor-mayer-schoenberger/the-rise-of-big-data?page=show
Japanese boffins crack arse-based ID recognizer -- url -- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/27/japanese_bum_id_recognizer/