Medical researchers have unlocked an unsettling ability in artificial intelligence (AI): predicting a person’s early death.
Scientists recently trained an AI system to evaluate a decade of general health data submitted by more than half a million people in the United Kingdom. Then, they tasked the AI with predicting if individuals were at risk of dying prematurely — in other words, sooner than the average life expectancy — from chronic disease, they reported in a new study.
The predictions of early death that were made by AI algorithms were “significantly more accurate” than predictions delivered by a model that did not use machine learning, lead study author Dr. Stephen Weng, an assistant professor of epidemiology and data science at the University of Nottingham (UN) in the U.K., said in a statement.
To evaluate the likelihood of subjects’ premature mortality, the researchers tested two types of AI: “deep learning,” in which layered information-processing networks help a computer to learn from examples; and “random forest,” a simpler type of AI that combines multiple, tree-like models to consider possible outcomes.