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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Predicting Life's Twists and Turns: AI's New Frontier

📸 ModelProp / Midjourney

Imagine a world where we can predict the course of our lives, right down to the moment we might take our last breath. Sounds like a sci-fi thriller, doesn't it? But, hold onto your hats, because Danish researchers are turning fiction into reality!

In a groundbreaking study published in Nature Computational Science, Danish boffins have harnessed the power of machine learning to predict certain aspects of human lives, including the unnerving prospect of how early someone might meet their maker.

The brainchild behind this is a machine-learning algorithm model called life2vec. It's a bit like a fortune teller, but instead of a crystal ball, it uses highly specific data about individuals to predict the outcome of their lives and their actions.

The data, drawn from a national register in Denmark, encapsulates a diverse group of 6 million people. It includes information related to major life aspects such as education, health, income, and occupation.

The algorithm then learned from this data and made predictions about people's lives, including how they might think, feel, behave, and even whether they might die in the next few years.

To test its mortality prediction prowess, life2vec was given data on a cohort of over 2.3 million people aged between 35 and 65. The algorithm then inferred the probability of a person surviving four years after 2016. The results were startlingly accurate, with the algorithm predicting correctly 78% of the time!

However, before we all start rushing to get our life predictions, it's worth noting that life2vec is still a "research prototype" and cannot perform any "real-world tasks" in its current state.

Also, the research had its limitations. The data was only collected over an eight-year period, and there may be sociodemographic biases in the sampling. Plus, the study was conducted in Denmark, a wealthy country with a strong infrastructure and health care system. It's unclear whether life2vec's findings can be applied in other countries with different socioeconomic conditions.

Despite these limitations, the research is a significant step towards understanding the potential of AI in predicting human behaviour and life outcomes. But as we move towards a future where our lives might become more predictable, we must also ponder whether we're ready to lose the mystery that makes life so intriguing.

As the saying goes, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." But what happens when those plans are made by an algorithm? Only time will tell.

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