[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website]
One of the throwaway remarks I sometimes make at conferences is that “Google knows you’re pregnant before you do”.
I can say this because the things you search for will change as your life changes, and search engine providers may well be able to spot the significance of these changes because they aggregate data from millions of people.
Now Google’s philanthropic arm, google.org, has shown just what it can do with the data it gathers from us all by offering to predict where ‘flu outbreaks will take place in the USA.
It has found that “certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity”, in that they correlate well with reports from the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.