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How Powerful is Your Smartphone?

In 1969, the world changed. The spacecraft Apollo 13 reached the moon and for the first time humans could walk on the moon’s surface. . Behind this achievement was not only accurate science and complex geometry but also a simple computer in the spacecraft called the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) that was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to allow astronauts to control the spacecraft. What was interesting about the AGC is that the memory was only 16-bit! Your smartphone has more computing power than that, it’s more powerful than hundreds of millions of ages. Theoretically, your phone could send hundreds of millions of spacecraft to the moon at the same time! Not only that, but it also has more computing power than what NASA needed to send a spacecraft to Mars.

In other words, to send a spacecraft to Mars you do not need tremendous capacity. However, your smartphone has immense capabilities compared to what you use it for. You have no idea what your smartphone can do. Your smartphone knows if you are awake or asleep; what your habits are; what your actions are in your home— whether you’re standing up or sitting down, working or chilling, alone or accompanied, your weight, your length, and your health in general.

You might ask how my smartphone can know all this. For instance, how does it know my length? When you put your smartphone to your ears while talking with someone, the accelerometer inside your phone can measure the distance between your ear and the floor, and by adding a few centimeters, it could easily know your length.

But wait, how can my smartphone know my weight? The same accelerometer monitors the motion of the phone and records how many steps you walk daily, how fast your movement is, and how much time it took to travel. With some mathematical calculations, the phone could also know your weight.

Okay, I get that my phone can know my weight and length, but how can it monitor my movement inside my home? If your home has Wi-fi connected to your smartphone, this means that there are unseen radio waves around you, because Wi-fi fills our world with radio waves. Thus, when you move inside your home you refract and reflect these unseen waves, and any simple change happening inside these waves will change their shape. But how?

In 2018, a group of scholars at the University of California succeeded in making a smartphone work like Sonar and drew a 3D map of anyone distorting or moving inside the radio waves which can even pass through walls. This method was incredibly accurate! They could locate you precisely by 92.6%.

Okay, my phone can know my length; my weight; my movement inside my home. But what else can this phone know? In December 2018, the New York Times Journal investigated the things a smartphone can know about its holder and discovered that your smartphone can know everything about your lifestyle; where you live, and where you work. For example, let us consider that X is your job location, and Y is your home location. During working time (8:00 to 16:00) you stay in location X, and during nighttime, you stay in location Y. Therefore, it can easily know where your home is and where you work.

You might think that my smartphone could know everything about my health and lifestyle, but at least it cannot know what I am feeling inside of me. You would be wrong about this assumption. In 2015, a group of researchers in Telefonica; a telecommunication company in Barcelona, Spain, figured out how to analyze the mood of a person using a smartphone, with an accuracy of up to 83%. But how?

They experimented on a person with a smartphone and monitored the smartphone of that person. They noted the length of time that passed without receiving a call or message; how many applications had been opened, and for how long each was used. In addition by using the phone’s microphone and camera they could tell whether the person was listening to music or not; if they were in a quiet or noisy place, or, or if they were in a light or dark place The researchers even predicted when that person was bored. In this case, they suggested some articles from BuzzFeed. Thus they were able to predict how that person feels. Your smartphone can know a lot about your mental health. Your smartphone can be used to diagnose psychiatric disorders, such as Depression, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia.

In 2018, three scientists in California - including the former director of the National Mental Health Foundation in the United States - were able to develop a program that monitors you by downloading it on your smartphone. But instead of monitoring what you are doing on the phone, they were monitoring the way you are doing it. They monitored very precise things, For example, the way you write, your speed of writing, the number of mistakes you make, whether you send the message you wrote directly or review before, and the way you press the links.

You might ask yourself what do these simple things have to do with such an important topic like depression? These are not trivial things. Certain patterns appear in the way people with depression write and manage the keyboard on the smartphone. There is a neuropsychological test known as a Trial-Tracing test which is used to test a person's ability to perform simple tasks. The Scientists who developed this program were able to capture and analyze the data of users of the program to learn these patterns. In essence, when the X-act occurs, a person has Y.

Therefore, Scientists can now know what symptoms you have that are like those with depression. Not only that, but they can also predict if you are likely to get depressed in the future or not. This program is used by thousands and connects the patient to his/her psychiatrist so that if the user shows evidence that his/her condition is deteriorating, the program sends a notification to the doctor to alert him that his/her patient has some problems and symptoms. The doctor then intervenes to help immediately!

Note here dear reader that everything mentioned in this article can be done by a smartphone all by itself. Without entering any new hardware, and without spying on your online behavior, the sites you open, or the people you speak to.

Every app that monitors a particular aspect of you uses certain information about you. Imagine if someone could hack your phone and connect these apps, what could they know about you? They would be able to know more about you than you do about yourself. And as time passes your smartphone is capable of monitoring your behavior more and more, and by extension, the shape of the world we live in is changing increasingly. Isn't that terrifying?

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