5 Reasons Organizations Predict When You Will Die

Eric Siegel, the author of best-selling "Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die", looks at the reasons for the death predictions, and even for predictions after death.

Here is an excerpt from Eric Siegel's
best-selling book, Predictive AnalyticsPredictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die (Wiley, Feb 2013).

Who benefits by predicting your behavior? Organizations do - companies, government agencies and political campaigns. They employ predictive analytics, technology that learns from data to render per-person predictions, one individual at a time. The payoff for predicting extends beyond boosting sales and winning elections: Everyone benefits when this technology strengthens the fight against risk, crime and even spam.

In these efforts, each important thing a person does can be valuable to predict, namely click, buy, steal, drop out of school, quit your job, donate, crash your car or vote.

So how about the final thing each of us do, die? In fact, there are five reasons organization predict your death. Sometimes they do it with altruistic intent, for health care-related purposes. In other cases, there's a financial incentive - they predict death for the money.

To begin with, there are two fairly well-known reasons to predict when an individual's death will come:

  • Health care - predicts death to help prevent it. For example, www.Riskprediction.org.uk predicts your risk of death in surgery, based on aspects of you and your condition, in order to help inform medical decisions. In other work, psychiatric research predicts which patients are at the greatest risk of suicide.
  • Life insurance - prices policies according to predicted life expectancy. A growing number of life insurance companies go beyond conventional actuarial tables and employ predictive analytics to establish mortality risk. It's not called death insurance, but their core analytical competency is to calculate when you are going to die.

Beyond life insurance, it turns out health insurance also predicts death - of policyholders. Until recently, death prediction has not been within the usual domain for health insurance. On the surface, given that the ulterior motives of health insurance are at times under scrutiny, one may imagine dubious implications. For what purpose do they predict dying?

We will return to this question - for now, here's a bit more about how death prediction works.

Read more.