Artificial Intelligence Software Predicts Lifespan

An artificial intelligence-based device that looks at images of organs can predict lifespan with considerable accuracy; it was created by scientists from the University of Adelaide.

Researchers from the University's School of Public Health and School of Computer Science, along with Australian and international collaborators, used artificial intelligence to analyse the medical imaging of 48 patients' chests. This computer-based analysis was able to predict which patients would die within five years, with 69% accuracy – comparable to 'manual' predictions by clinicians.

This is the first study of its kind using medical images and artificial intelligence.

"Predicting the future of a patient is useful because it may enable doctors to tailor treatments to the individual," says lead author Dr Luke Oakden-Rayner, a radiologist and PhD student with the University of Adelaide's School of Public Health.

"The accurate assessment of biological age and the prediction of a patient's longevity has so far been limited by doctors’ inability to look inside the body and measure the health of each organ.

"Our research has investigated the use of 'deep learning', a technique where computer systems can learn how to understand and analyse images.

"Although for this study only a small sample of patients was used, our research suggests that the computer has learnt to recognise the complex imaging appearances of diseases, something that requires extensive training for human experts," Dr Oakden-Rayner says.

As it happens, the idea that it might be possible to scientifically predict when you will die is the subject of Robert Heinlein's first published story. In Lifeline, published in 1939, Dr. Hugo Pinero presents an interesting and plausible scenario for calculating the date of a person's death.

(Chronovitameter view of human life)

He stepped up to one of the reporters. "Suppose we take you as an example. Your name is Rogers, is it not? Very well, Rogers, you are a space-time event having duration four ways. You are not quite six feet tall, you are about twenty inches wide and perhaps ten inches thick. In time, there stretches behind you more of this space-time event, reaching to perhaps nineteen-sixteen, of which we see a cross-section here at right angles to the time axis, and as thick as the present. At the far end is a baby, smelling of sour milk and drooling its breakfast on its bib. At the other end lies, perhaps, an old man someplace in the nineteen-eighties.

"Imagine this space-time event that we call Rogers as a long pink worm, continuous through the years, one end in his mother's womb, and the other at the grave..."

"Now think of our long pink worm as a conductor of electricity. You have heard, perhaps, of the fact that electrical engineers can, by certain measurements, predict the exact location of a break in a trans-Atlantic cable without ever leaving the shore. By applying my instruments to the cross-section here in this room I can tell where the break occurs, that is to say, when death takes place."
(Read more about the Chronovitameter)

Via University of Adelaide press release.

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