Canada Using Artificial Intelligence to Research Suicide-Related Behavior Online

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Canada’s second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 19 is suicide—and the government is using artificial intelligence to figure out why.

Our neighbor to the north is partnering with Advanced Symbolics Inc., an AI company based in Ottowa, on a pilot program to monitor Internet usage in an attempt to predict suicidal behavior, according to the CBC. The government and the company will spend three months trying to determine if they can define any links between the two. At the end of that period they will decide if the program will stay around for further “suicide surveillance.”

“To help prevent suicide, develop effective prevention programs, and recognize ways to intervene earlier, we must first understand the various patterns and characteristics of suicide-related behaviors,” a spokesperson from Canada’s public health agency said in a statement to the CBC.

Advanced Symbiotics claims the new program will not violate anyone’s private online life, as it will look for digital trends and not at an individual’s Internet use. The artificial intelligence the program uses will, however, take higher notice of certain communities or specific locations where suicide may be more likely to occur, observing online behavior but not altering it.

AS will work to define the suicidal behavior its program will look for this month, and plans to actively monitor and document it later in 2018.