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Greenlit: Human Swarm, Ch4

Human Swarm (2 x60′) – We all like to think of ourselves as individuals, but are we really driven by unseen forces that make us behave in predictable ways: a human swarm?

In this eye-opening new series Jimmy Doherty uncovers how the ‘data trails’ we leave behind from social media activity, online buying and search terms help to reveal a remarkably detailed picture about just how predictable we are.

And it shows how organisations including supermarkets, retailers, energy companies, road and air traffic controllers use vast quantities of data and sophisticated technology to anticipate our actions and keep our increasingly complex society moving.

The programmes chart how small changes in weather – whether a cold snap or a warm spell – can lead to surprisingly large differences in our behaviour and the ways in which Britain’s infrastructure and companies attempt to predict those dramatic changes and rapidly adapt to avoid the country grinding to a halt.

And the programmes show how our primeval biological rhythms influence everything from the times when we’re most likely to feel grumpy, or want a cup of coffee and how psychology and ‘herd mentality’ are considered in airport design, supermarket check outs and fashion buying.

Channel: Ch4

Producer: Impossible Pictures

TX: 2013

Source: Ch4 press release


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