Can AI's 'Doom Calculator' Predict Your Death? What We Know

Death is an uncomfortable reality — but it is a reality nonetheless. All of us are going to bite the dust one day. Do we really want to know when that will be, though?

Thanks to a Danish AI-generated algorithm called "Life2vec," we can now apparently know when we're going to die with 78% accuracy (via USA Today). Talk about starting 2024 with doom and gloom. The 2023 study, titled "Using sequences of life-events to predict human lives," led by professor of network and complex systems from the Technical University of Denmark, Sune Lehmann, was published in Nature Computational Science. 

The research involved feeding data about participants' income, what they did for work, where they lived, and details on pregnancy and injuries from 6 million heterogeneous Danish people ranging from the ages of 35 to 65 into the AI program. The study spanned the years 2008 to 2020. One of the goals was to use life2vec to predict who would live past January 1, 2016. Half of the participants passed away between 2016 and 2020, per The Jerusalem Post. "We use the technology behind ChatGPT (something called transformer models) to analyze human lives by representing each person as the sequence of events that happens in their life," explained Lehmann to the New York Post. According to the lead author, the sequence of someone's life can be likened to a sequence of words in a sentence — except with events.   

Being male and having a mental health illness could mean premature death

While not all of the health, career, or lifestyle details of the study's participants have been revealed just yet, what we do know is that being male, having a mental health diagnosis, and belonging to a skilled profession are some factors that mean you're more likely to die early, according to the study, per The New York Post. Conversely, taking home a bigger paycheck or being the boss at your workplace meant you might live longer. The AI was also able to give clues about the participants' personalities. The predictions were not shared with the participants. 

Men have, historically, been thought to die younger than women, one of the reasons being their biological makeup and the fact that testosterone is linked with cardiovascular disease. Women have the benefit of estrogen which protects heart health and stronger immune systems than men, per Queensland Health. Premature death among those with mental illnesses is also not a new finding. In fact, people with mental health conditions are thought to die 20 years earlier than others worldwide, per a 2019 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry Commission. 

Lehmann and his team hope to reveal more about the death-predicting AI algorithm while carefully respecting the participants' privacy. "We are actively working on ways to share some of the results more openly, but this requires further research to be done in a way that can guarantee the privacy of the people in the study," explained Lehmann (via Daily Mail). In the meantime, you can check out how the AI Death Calculator works for yourself.