Walking past a bank of plasma screens in Austin that were sputtering out tweets from the festival, I saw the claim from Marissa Mayer, a Google vice-president, that credit card companies can predict with 98% accuracy, two years in advance, when a couple is going to divorce, based on spending patterns alone. She meant this to be reassuring: Google, she explained, didn’t engage in such covert data-mining. (Deep inside, I admit, I wasn’t reassured. But then Mayer probably already knew that.)
I’m not entirely sure what to make of that information (if it’s correct), but it seems like credit card companies, if they wanted to humanize their brands, could start saving a lot of marriages or end them sooner.