Finding the Flu with Tweets and AICategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 20, 2012 05:23AM
Getting sick is never much fun but avoiding it can be difficult. You cannot exactly ask every person you come in contact with if they have been sick recently. Although, many people are now volunteering that information with posts on Twitter and researchers at the University of Rochester have created a machine learning program to identify these Tweets and let you know when you are at risk.
That amount of information people volunteer to sites like Twitter can be truly amazing. Not only is potentially personal information listed but GPS data could be included as well, which together the AI uses to let you know if you have been exposed to the flu. If you have been exposed, it may be days before symptoms appear, so if you act fast you may be able to head it off.
When the researchers tested the AI they found it had a 90% accuracy rate of predicting which individuals would get sick as many as eight days before symptoms appeared. Unfortunately it would be hard to increase this value as people do not always accurately describe their symptoms within 140 characters and there are many factors that contributed to getting sick. However, this still shows an ability for AI that could be very beneficial as it is developed further.