Tick tock… The ‘death clock’ that predicts when you’ll die

© Stephane Mahe
Scientists have teamed up with insurance companies to develop a ‘death clock’ that can predict when customers are going to die.

The four-year project at the University of East Anglia (UEA) aims to use medical databases to determine life expectancy and long-term illness.

The program follows worldwide trends by insurance companies to find out as much as they can about people’s health and lifestyle.

Professor Elena Kulinskaya, from UEA’s School of Computing Sciences, said scientists want to use ‘Big Data’ to predict the future.

People around the world are living longer,” she said.

We want to develop software tools that use Big Data routinely collected by healthcare providers to forecast longevity.

We want to identify and quantify the key factors affecting mortality and longevity, such as lifestyle choices, medical conditions and medical interventions.

We are particularly interested in understanding how various chronic diseases and their treatments impact life expectancy.”

The project is funded by a £800,000 (US$1.15 million) grant from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and uses employees from insurance firm Aviva.

Computer scientists working on the project claim it will help people plan for retirement and also aid research into the impact on longevity of medical drugs such as beta-blockers and statins.

Insurance analyst and pensions expert Ned Cazalet said the database could help people denied insurance due to health issues secure policies.

We’re not quite down to blood samples and DNA tests yet but it’s certainly going that way,” he said.

We have a big ageing population so it’s important that insurance companies get this right, instead of a one-sized fits all approach.

Inevitably it will mean changes for some people but it could mean that people who were unable to get policies because of disease can now get them because it was just so tricky to work out in the past.”