Software predicts tomorrow’s news by analyzing today’s and yesterday’s

February 4, 2013

(Credit: ProtoplasmaKid/Wikimedia Commons)

Prototype software can give early warnings of disease or violence outbreaks by spotting clues in news reports.

Researchers have created software that predicts when and where disease outbreaks might occur, based on two decades of New York Times articles and other online data. The research comes from Microsoft and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, MIT Technology Review reports.

The system could someday help aid organizations and others be more proactive in tackling disease outbreaks or other problems, says Eric Horvitz, distinguished scientist and codirector at Microsoft Research.

The system provides striking results when tested on historical data. For example, reports of droughts in Angola in 2006 triggered a warning about possible cholera outbreaks in the country, because previous events had taught the system that cholera outbreaks were more likely in years following droughts.