Google search terms can predict flu outbreaks; what next?

sneezeYou’d have to have been under a pretty large metaphorical internet rock to have missed all the reports about Google Flu Trends that are floating around the web today like sneezed particles of snot, but just in case:

By tracking searches for terms such as ‘cough’, ‘fever’ and ‘aches and pains’ it claims to be able to accurately estimate where flu is circulating.

Google tested the idea in nine regions of the US and found it could accurately predict flu outbreaks between seven and 14 days earlier than the federal centres for disease control and prevention.

So I was thinking, if they can predict flu outbreaks by using search terms as an indicator, what else can be predicted in a similar way? Stats geeks were rinsing comparisons of Obama and McCain as search terms in the run-up to the election, but politics is a bit more complicated than infectious diseases.

Or is it? [image by trumanlo]

One thought on “Google search terms can predict flu outbreaks; what next?”

  1. So, google is adding new street level views, 3D buildings, realtime weather maps to Google Earth, streamed? Hmmm interesting. So in a while we’ll have websites linking to GA, streaming real data, which GA brokers at a small fee. Subscriptions to all kinds of geographical representations, first 2D, then gradually moving to 3D, right?

    Color maps exactly *where* real world money is. Where cars are. Where cars *should* be. Where cars with hungry drivers best drive if the vote is for Italian food? Where cops are, in case you are a street level drug dealer?

    Through google? Anonimized? Through private servers using google data in imaginative paid-subscription or coded layers? Private P2P servers in sinister countries engaging in human trafficking? How would a pedophyle ring benefit from this level of detailed geographic interfacing? Inquiring minds want to know…

    So… When this will balloon into a virtual reality, especially after Google buys Linden Labs, dissects the LL code, upgrades it with a casual chuckle, in a week,, and then proceeds to use the IP infrastructure, programming language, avatar shapes of Second Life. … Adds a whole bunch of decent animations, some gameplay, a good deal better interface, a programming structure that allows players to export existing lands and make em float somewhere in the pacific (only a lot bigger and more primmaceous than the current LL scaling disaster) and strings it together into something a lot more smooth, playable, lag free and realistic..?

    … *as well as* adding an almost endless amount of virtual real estate?

    3DS derived Buildings being added at a geometric rate ? I mean, google absorbs Second Life, for a good price, and then has a few million dedicated and motivated users who’ll sacrifice newlyweds to the old ones to be able to keep player their cherished avatars, including all of millions of unique items of IP content (…. IN ONE GO??? Hmmm???

    Simple clients running on a proprietary engine, while clients can buy specialize add-on engines (a crysis-derived one?) to allow more *intense* interaction? 3DS pre-rendered models in those engines instead of crummy sculpty based stuff? Good lighting, shading, atmospherics, weather, wind effect, object shatter, physics?

    Then, the same for Google Mars Maps? … and a mars-derived transhuman MMORPG scaled to a true-size mars map, based on the mars trilogy of Robinson?

    Same for the Moon? Same for a celestia-derived solar system, with realistic newtonian physics and realistic ion-drive/solar sail homesteading to existing asteroids?

    … several adjecent dimensions, so you can have MMO’s with different themes using real world data, in ways depending on cinematic style?

    Trickling down into wearable based AR/ER/VR games?

    When? Hurry up yes? FFS faster? Yes? No dragging feet? Please? PLEASE?

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