Monday noon–1 p.m.
The quest to predict the future of humanity
- Audience level:
Our world faces increasingly complex challenges: we destabilized the climate, haven’t beaten all diseases, and haven’t spread the values of democracy and freedom to large parts of the globe, where violence and riots reign supreme. The world must be fixed in our generation - everyone would agree. But in order to take action, build a plan, we need to see the complete picture, and empower decision makers with tools to make those changes. This decade, we have finally reached a critical amount of data to facilitate the creation of such tools.
My work is inspired by Mark Twain’s quote, who once said: “The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes." Although future events have unique circumstances, they typically follow familiar past patterns. Over the past few years, I devoted my life to development of prediction techniques. My system inferred that Cholera outbreaks in land-locked areas are more likely to occur following storms, especially when preceded by a long drought. Another inference is that genocide events tend to occur following events where local opinion makers describe minority groups as pests. These types of patterns are composed of several abstractions, over variable-term temporal extents and selected from a large number of possible causes. The algorithms I developed deal with the complexity of discovering such patterns.
Large-scale digital histories, social and real-time media, and human web behavior are harvested and augmented with human knowledge mined from the web to afford real-time estimations of likelihoods of future events. Most recently, these algorithms have accurately predicted the first Cholera outbreak reported in Cuba in fifty years. These types of actionable predictions, that enable preventative measures, have drawn the attention of a UN genocide-prevention organization and the Gates foundations and illustrate the vast potential for real impact on the state of humanity.
In the last few years I have been focusing on applying similar techniques for the healthcare and Pharma, leveraging large amount of data obtained from both medical records, EMR and other medical research results data in a quest to create an AI system for automated medical research and breakthroughs.