google can predict the future

Google knows everything and now they are predicting the future…. apparently google can predict flu outbreaks better than the CDC according to where and how often people use google to search for “flu” -both frightening and amazing.

check it out here. they also provide an in-depth explanation of their methods which is also frightening/interesting.


November 18, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Becko, FYI, Innernette, News, World saving.


  1. David replied:

    Seeing as they’re collecting data based on people who think they currently have influenza, isn’t this not so much “predicting the future” as it is “predicting the present?”

    Riddle me that, Becko.

  2. becko replied:

    yeah i considered that but apparently they are still 2 weeks ahead of the CDC. Also- if people are searching for info on the flu, maybe they are in the beginning stages (obviously aren’t bedridden and barfing everywhere) and more people are probably going to get it from those fools. It’s all about tracking the trends… oh, and google tells me this-

    “So why bother with estimates from aggregated search queries? It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza. ”

    read the fine print. jeeesh.

    procrastinating too roganoff?

  3. Nick replied:

    I agree with Becky. The more people that have the flu in an area, the more likely that area is to cross a tipping point and end up with an actual outbreak. So by correctly modeling the present, they are helping to predict the future.

    Although, their model relies on people Googling flu symptoms, so I was surprised to find that the south had higher incidences of flu internet searches, since I did not realize that people in Alabama have computers.

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