A visit to the doctors could tell you any number of things about your health such as if you’re blood pressure is too high, or if you need to cut down on your drinking.
But in the future this could reach even further, extending to a simple computer test that could predict when you will die.
Researchers in the UK are embarking on a mammoth project which aims to bring together enormous datasets to pinpoint exactly when your number might be up.
By compiling information from health datasets, the team at the University of East Anglia hope to develop methods for predicting how long people will live, and so help them to spend their time, and money, more wisely.
Earlier this year, the team received an £800,000 ($1.1 million) grant from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the UK body which trains and regulates professionals involved in risk management.
As part of the four-year project, the UEA team will bring together ‘big data’ on lifestyle and disease, with the aim of building a model which can predict life expectancy and a focus on the impact of long-term health conditions and their treatments.
‘We want to develop software tools that use big data routinely collected by healthcare providers to forecast longevity,’ explained Professor Elena Kulinskaya, from UEA’s School of Computing Sciences and who is leading the research.
When we talk about big data what we mean is data that is vast, complex and difficult to analyse.
‘We want to be able to use it to see statistical life expectancy trends, based on large-scale population-based data collected over the long term.’
The project will involve collaboration between a range of experts, including data analysts, computer scientists and medical staff at UEA’s medical school. In addition, the team will be assisted by technical experts at insurance company Aviva.