Machine Learning Technology Used to Detect Suicidal Thoughts


A.I. knows when you think of killing yourself

Nature Communications published a study of adult brain activity triggered by specific phrases and the computer program detected the patterns for suicidal thoughts at over 90% accuracy and if they attempted suicide before with 94% accuracy.

34 adults were divided into 2 groups: those who experience suicidal thoughts, and those who don't. Then a fMRI scanner observed their brains while responding to specific words. The words that showed the biggest contrast between the two groups were:

  1. death
  2. trouble
  3. carefree
  4. praise
  5. good
  6. beauty

The computer had to pick which group each brain scan belonged to and was more accurate than expected. 

Study leader, Marcel Just, said it's “nice to have this additional method” of diagnosis.

Blake Richards, a neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, argues these results only show correlation but not causation: 

There is undoubtedly a biological basis for whether someone is going to commit suicide… There’s a biological basis for every aspect of our mental lives, but the question is whether the biological basis for these things are sufficiently accessible by fMRI to really develop a reliable test that you could use in a clinical setting

Despite this, Just continues to improve his research training A.I. computers to transcribe people's thinking by looking at their brain scans. With more advanced technology than fMRI's, computers will be able to distinguish finer parts of thought. In other words, be able to recognize each quick and subtle different brain signal and it's associated meaning. 

Do mind-reading A.I. robots sound like a bad idea to you too?

If not, then consider the other side of the double-edged A.I. sword whereby supercomputers could not just read our minds but transmit thoughts into our brain wirelessly... Don't tell me, I know what you're thinking...