Ubisoft Wants To Help Us Understand What Our Digital Footprint Reveals

A new project to mark the launch of Watchdogs 2 looks at what your online data says about you.

Ubisoft Wants To Help Us Understand What Our Digital Footprint Reveals

The extent to which the online data we create daily reveals who we are and predicts our future is explored in an in-depth digital experience created for Ubisoft by agency Sid Lee Paris in collaboration with researchers at Cambridge University.


“Predictive World” went live on November 10 to allow users to explore their own online data, and what it says about them, with an advanced virtual system able to predict their profile according to their digital footprint.
It was created to promote the launch of Ubisoft’s new game Watch Dogs 2, which revolves around a young hacker called Marcus Holloway who is identified as the main suspect for a crime he did not commit. Players must complete a series of missions to take down San Francisco’s advanced surveillance system which Holloway believes harms rather than helps the city’s citizens.

The new interactive experience has been built around a sophisticated algorithm developed by a team at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre using open data resources to gather 6.4 billion data points, from which a new data infrastructure was built to generate highly accurate individual predictions. Previously, the Centre created a tool called Apply Magic Sauce that predicts personality based on Facebook Likes.

This found that while drug users, for example, were more likely to like Facebook pages such as, ‘Texting with cold hands is liked typing in slow motion’, and ‘Big Mommas movies’, liking ‘Swimming’ ‘Inside jokes’ ands ‘Milkshakes’ was characteristic of someone who does not use drugs.

For “Predictive World,” users’ online footprints will be analyzed by new system to predict a range of more than 70 personal attributes. The aim is to help users understand the extent to which their digital data alone can be analyzed to reveal surprising detail about their personal lives.

Users can also manipulate variables within the experience to see how certain changes to their data might affect other characteristics and, even, change outcomes: how changes in location, age, gender, height, alcohol consumption, and so on could impact on their life expectancy, their odds of getting married or even their income.

By highlighting the blurring of the line between reality and fiction, the agency says it hopes the experience will make people more aware of what surveillance systems in real life can learn from the billions of gigabytes of data–from online purchases to Facebook Likes–we generate daily.

About the author

Meg Carter is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written widely on all aspects of branding, media, marketing & creativity for a wide range of outlets including The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian newspapers, New Media Age and Wired.