With technology and AI advancing at such a quick pace, it’s now possible to determine when you’ll die with a high confidence level. This sort of information would truly be life-changing for many people — if you learn when you’ll pass early enough you might be more inclined to do everything you’ve always wanted to while if you learn shortly before your death, it might just cause depression and sadness.
Doctors have given their general predictions for decades now, but computer-based tools like this promise a more accurate prediction than the previous way. It essentially works in the same manner as a BuzzFeed quiz: answer a couple questions about the medical condition, personal characteristics like age and gender and your abilities and it will spit out an easy-to-understand estimate based on patients with similar characteristics. Though not perfectly accurate, in a study published in collaboration with Google’s Medical Brain, there was a 93 to 95 percent accuracy rate.
The technology is powered by sophisticated AI algorithms to make a best estimate, and “was significantly more accurate than the traditional predictive model, the augmented Early Warning Score,” the study explains. In one case study, Medical brain gave a woman a 19.9 percent chance of dying in the hospital based on 175,639 data points from her records, while the hospital’s EWS gave her only a 9.3 percent chance — but two weeks later, she had passed.
One of the biggest issues found, however, is that all information must be inputted into a computer, which is cumbersome for hospitals that are not yet utilizing digital records systems. “Traditional modeling approaches have dealt with this complexity simply by choosing a very limited number of commonly collected variables to consider,” but limiting the information put into the algorithm only makes the prediction less accurate.
The main drawback about this knowledge is the privacy concerns around this type of concern and what insurance companies might be able to do with it. Hospital systems could use this information to better plan the number of beds needed at any one time, whether patients will need to be transported to a different hospital to cope with demand and the amount of medications they should order.
Mostly, this is a huge ethical debate on a personal level — do you want to know the truth and will you regret asking to know it when you do? We waste a lot of time trying to predict the future, but if it is something as big as death, then maybe we don’t want to know.