Research study shows how web search data might help diagnose serious illness


A new study by Microsoft researchers Eric Horvitz and Ryen White, along with former Microsoft intern and Columbia University doctoral candidate John Paparrizos reveals that records of the topics that people search for on the Internet could one day prove as useful as an X-ray or MRI in detecting some illnesses before it’s too late.

They used anonymized Bing search logs to identify people whose queries provided strong evidence that they had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – a particularly deadly and fast-spreading cancer that is frequently caught too late to cure. Then they retroactively analyzed searches for symptoms of the disease over many months prior to identify patterns of queries most likely to signal an eventual diagnosis.

Looks like saving your web search history on Bing or Google might not be a bad idea after all. Read more about this study here.