This A.I. can predict how long you'll live—and it's free

A company specializing in A.I. medicine will tell you how long you’re likely to live.

How much life do you have left?
Tick, tick (Insilico Medicine)

“He not busy being born is busy dying,” sang Bob Dylan, and of course he’s right. We’re all ticking time bombs in our way. We think that, by and large, we pass on in order of age, but that’s just one metric, and it’s a pretty coarse-grained one. There are lots of other predictors of longevity, and each has its own health and “age”—its own clock, if you will. Young.AI is a new project currently in beta testing that uses A.I. to track the “age” of our systems in order to derive a more meaningful prediction of our biological age, and thus our lifespan. It seeks to identify the weakest clocks as the ones most likely to become life-threatening. 

(Insilico Medicine)

Young.AI is a project of Insilico Medicine, whose mission is the use of “Artificial Intelligence For Drug Discovery, Biomarker Development & Aging Research.” It follows a deep-learning analysis by Insilico of blood tests from 130,000 South Koreans, Canadians, and Eastern Europeans. Scientists from Johns Hopkins, University of Oxford, and other research institutions participated in the study. This was apparently the largest such analysis ever performed in the longevity field, and it produced a model using “several deep learning-based predictors of biological age trained upon population-specific blood biochemistry and haematological cell count datasets.” It was published in the Journal of Gerontology



Polina Mamoshina, a senior research scientist at Insilico Medicine, says that “today, thanks to A.I. and the incredibly fast computational power of our deep learning neural networks, we can discover patterns and formulas in a huge pool of blood work that could not be discovered just a few years ago.”

The project looked at 21 commonly measured blood parameters such as cholesterol, inflammation markers (CRP), hemoglobin count, and albumin levels, along with 17 other chemical indicators. Through A.I. analysis aligning blood chemistry with age, ethnicity and other data, Insilico believes it’s produced an algorithm that offers the “first truly reliable aging clock for humans.” It says that now, simply through the analysis of a single drop of blood, it can determine an individual’s life expectancy.

Insilico Medicine

Anyone can find out what their medical future looks like according to Insilico’s algorithm by going to the Young.AI website. The analysis is free. Participants have to have their blood locally tested for 18 parameters, and then upload the results to the Young.AI site, along with a facial photo for another Insilico AI algorithm that can assess aging based on visual indicators. It only takes a few seconds for the site to return a report. If it shows a biological clock age that’s older than one’s chronological age, Insilico hopes that the analysis can help subjects take the necessary steps to shore up their weakest indicators before it's too late.

Insilico’s CEO, Alex Zhavoronkov, says, “Our test gives people a sober look at how fast or slow their biological clock is ticking. And for those who learn that their bodies are aging at a fast, unhealthy rate, the test will hopefully serve as a wake-up call, convincing them to take steps now that will add years to their life later—all this insight from a blood test.”

Since we still have much to learn about how and why the progression of ill health manifests in our systems over time, it remains to be seen how accurately a snapshot of your blood chemistry values today can serve as a predictor of your eventual health, A.I. and deep learning notwithstanding. As an indicator of your condition right now, though, it’s clear that a Young.AI report would have value as a guide for informing your behavior. As far as it seeing into your future goes, you might want to keep an open mind. Only time will truly tell.




This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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Credit: Helen_f via AdobeStock
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