How artificial intelligence 'can predict when you will die'

Yahoo! UK

The idea of an all-seeing artificial intelligence which can predict when people will die sounds like something from the more chilling end of sci-fi.

But in the not-too-distant future, AI could improve healthcare – by pinpointing people who are likely to succumb to preventable diseases.

Researchers found that AI is better than people at predicting early death, when using data from large numbers of British middle-aged people.

The team used health data from just over half a million people aged between 40 and 69 recruited to the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010 and followed up until 2016.

The team of healthcare data scientists and doctors have developed and tested a system of computer-based ‘machine learning’ algorithms to predict the risk of early death due to chronic disease.

Artificial intelligence could predict when we die. Source: Getty Images
Artificial intelligence could predict when we die. Source: Getty Images

Dr Stephen Weng, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Data Science, said: “Preventative healthcare is a growing priority in the fight against serious diseases so we have been working for a number of years to improve the accuracy of computerised health risk assessment in the general population.”

“We have taken a major step forward in this field by developing a unique and holistic approach to predicting a person’s risk of premature death by machine-learning.

“This uses computers to build new risk prediction models that take into account a wide range of demographic, biometric, clinical and lifestyle factors for each individual assessed, even their dietary consumption of fruit, vegetables and meat per day.

“We mapped the resulting predictions to mortality data from the cohort, using Office of National Statistics death records, the UK cancer registry and ‘hospital episodes’ statistics. We found machine learned algorithms were significantly more accurate in predicting death than the standard prediction models developed by a human expert.”

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