AI Spotlight: Artificial Intelligence Can Provide Help to Those Who Attempt Suicide

Suicide is ranked as the third leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 14 and second among people ages 15 to 24 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Obviously, suicide and depression are a serious problem facing society. People who are contemplating suicide often feel helpless and reach out, but hearing and acting on cries for help doesn’t always happen in time. Tragically, many people who have struggled with depression and/or suicidal thoughts have used social media to post notes about their intentions to take their own lives or even live stream their suicides. In response, Facebook announced a few months ago that it would be taking more initiative in using its platform for social good.  One of Facebook’s tools to aide with suicide prevention is artificial intelligence. Facebook has developed algorithms that recognize patterns in user’s posts to flag them in case they are at risk of committing suicide.  Critics hav ...


Big Data Saves Lives

One of the striking examples of the social value of the new techniques of data aggregation and analysis is described in Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier. Big data is a business buzzword, but the underlying reality it describes is real.  The three Vs of big data – variety, velocity and volume – represent the new world in which data in a variety of formats, including unstructured data like video or text, come at a researcher in enormous quantities and in a constantly changing stream.  Add to this new world of data a range of advanced analytical techniques that can detect novel correlations in data without the need for a prior causal hypothesis, and the result is truly something new under the sun – a way to discover unsuspected and unanticipated insights into the world that simply could not have been uncovered with unaided empirical observation.