Microsoft Researchers are secretly working on a new project, a project to develop a software capable of detecting disease or violence outbreaks by spotting clues in news reports. The project is a joint venture of Microsoft and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. If completed successfully, we could soon have in not so distant future, a software that capable of analyzing news headlines in different regions and warning us beforehand about outbreak of diseases or civil unrest that could result in violence.
The software will be designed to learn patterns from the very old data to suggest what’s ahead/coming up. The prototype has already been tested successfully.
Software may be able to learn patterns from even very old data that can suggest what’s ahead. The prototype model delivered strikingly good performance when tested on historical data. When tested on historical reports of droughts that hit Angola in 2006, the software triggered a warning about possible cholera outbreaks in the country. How? Previous events had taught the system that cholera outbreaks were more likely in years following droughts. In similar tests involving forecasts of disease, violence, and a significant numbers of deaths, the system’s warnings were correct between 70 to 90 percent of the time, reported a website – Technology Review.
The system could someday help aid organizations and others be more proactive in tackling disease outbreaks or other problems. I truly view this as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Eventually this kind of work will start to have an influence on how things go for people”, said Eric Horvitz, distinguished scientist and codirector at Microsoft Research who did the research in collaboration with Kira Radinsky, a PhD researcher at the Technion-Israel Institute.
Currently, Microsoft has no plans to make it available for commercial use. For more information, read this PDF file.