It has been said that there are only two guarantees in life: Death and Taxes. Yet while most of us know that April is the dreaded time of year when we must shell out large chunks of our hard-earned dollars to that bastard Uncle Sam, none of us have a fucking clue when we are going to drop dead.
One of the harshest lessons that we learn while motoring through this bizarre physical world, which oddly enough began by crawling out of a poontang porthole, is that the Grim Reaper doesn’t discriminate when it comes to satisfying his murderous ways. Nope, it can happen to anybody at any time. It could happen right now! And this death business, ahh man, it has one twisted sense of humor, too.
Life can be moving along swimmingly — you just got a $1 million advance on a book deal, and you’re boning Szandora LaVey on the regular – when all of a sudden BAM! cancer, heart attack, stroke or maybe an aneurysm slips in and ends it all. This is the reason that we, as temporary ornaments in this mad, mad world, are supposed to live every day as if it is our last. Because it damn well might be.
But what is there was a way to determine with an impressive level of accuracy just how a person was going to be sent packing into the darkness? Would you want that kind of information?
It might sound a bit far-fetched to suggest that it is possible to eventually predict what is going to kill us, especially considering all of the possible snuff routines the Reaper can bring at the point it decides to drag someone into the Abyss. Nevertheless, a team of scientists from the University of Nottingham say that they have developed technology which can provide a reasonably accurate projection for how all us mortals will push the sky. The results of this controversial research were published in PLOS ONE. And we’re not going to lie, they are pretty gnarly.
The latest attempt at calculating the end of days for humans comes in the form of artificial intelligence, the study shows. It is a machine, which has spent the past decade studying the genetic, physical and health data of more than 500,000 people, that can analyze algorithms and handicap the threat of premature death as a result of a chronic illness. Scientists associated with this computer-based design say it is “significantly more accurate” than other prediction methods that are not based on a contraption that digs this deep into the art of health risk assessment.
“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,” said lead researcher Dr. Stephen Weng.
“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 found machine-learned algorithms were significantly more accurate in predicting death than the standard prediction models developed by a human expert,” he added.
Good lord, we can see it now:
Well, Mr. Adams, we’ve run your data through our new death predicting machine, and it looks like you’re going to be taken out by either alcohol poisoning or a stalled prostate. Our advice is to stop boozing it up before ten in the morning and perhaps reconsider using your cell phone for whacking material.
Unfortunately, this magic ball, of sorts, is not going to be much help when it comes to telling us whether we might succumb to a vicious case of space herpes or if we’ll be mauled and eaten alive by zombie deer. But it could be useful in keeping people from being shackled to Hell’s gate before they are old and decrepit. It sure as shit beats drinking human blood as a means for trying to thwart all of the diseases put here to destroy us. We don’t need AI to tell us how that Bohemian Rhapsody is going to shake out.
So, just how accurate is this modern day prophet of doom? Well, we’d say it pretty goddamned accurate. During the study, 14,500 of the participants died and the machine called almost 80 percent of them. Jeez, if only we could have that kind of precision when making our March Madness brackets.
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