back to article Enjoy a tipple or five? You might need this AI system to tell you when it's time for a new liver

Machine-learning algorithms might be able to work out if your brain is turning to mush from end-stage liver disease just by reading your emails, according to preliminary experiments. ESLD, also known as chronic liver failure, slowly progresses over months and years. It’s often caused by cirrhosis, where scar tissue in damaged …

  1. robidy

    ...or see if they are drinking too much, not sure this was the very best tech innovation.

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Cirrhosis may be caused by something else than drinking. I lost a friend to a non alcoholic cirrhosis this July.

      1. Stuart Castle

        Indeed. People forget that. I've a friend who has liver damage (not bad enough to kill her, but bad enough that she can never have alcohol) that was caused by a virus. She apparently was never a heavy drinker.

  2. Alister Silver badge

    There are so many other causes of cognitive abnormalities that I can't see how you could possibly use this as a diagnostic tool unless you already know that the particular patient has cirrhosis, and can rule out any other medical problems.

  3. Craig 2 Silver badge

    This is so full of holes.... off the top of my head maybe people predisposed to heavy drinking (a widely acknowledged unhealthy behaviour) are linked to lower education levels, thus reduced eloquence...

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge


      there's always the Rowley Birkin defence.

    2. teebie

      Ignoring that there are non-alcohol related sources of cirrhosis...

      If you have 2 heavy drinkers with similar education levels, then you are comparing like with like. If one shows more impairment than the other there is a higher chance they need medical intervention.

      Of course, if this does work out then we with be incentivising people to write long, ranty, meandering emails to their doctors.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        That is of course absolutely true. However, what's the percentage of heavy drinkers who get cirrhosis vs non-drinkers who get cirrhosis?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Craig 2 - Well, it depends.

      At the beginning of a drinking session, alcohol will increase your verbosity and then after you knock enough bottles you become totally speechless. This is irrespective of your level of education.

  4. Il'Geller

    Machine Learning technology is designed to improve information search results, and not to compare texts and find some anomalies in them. Thus, an attempt to use this technology in this way is pointless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ll'Geller - It's not pointless.

      I admit this experiment is totally idiotic but it can always be used as a negative example.

      Machine Learning technology is when you search without knowing what you're looking for.

      As Yogi Berra used to say, You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

      1. Il'Geller

        Re: @ll'Geller - It's not pointless.

        "...NLP may provide opportunities to detect cognitive impairment in ESLD..."

        Machine Learning is not NLP! These are two different things: NLP just helps structure information, translates it into a computer-friendly and readable format, that's all.

        AI uses structured information (texts) to search for another information, formulating (expanding to several hundred and thousands of patterns) search queries. In turn, feedback-based Machine Learning refines these searches (based on attracting new texts).

        Finally, the AI ​​acts or does not in accordance with the information found.

        They, however, simply compare emails: "...where they compared the emails..."

      2. Il'Geller

        Re: @ll'Geller - It's not pointless.

        The idea of Artificial Intelligence:

        1. A personal profile is created, based on structured tests; this is NLP part, where you need it as such.

        2. A search query, which may consist of 1-2 words, is expanded to complete-and-meaningful patterns; the technology of which is outlined in my US Patent 6.199.067 (PA Advisors v Google).

        3. This search pattern is then filtered through the profile, it's enriched with hundreds and thousands of explanatory patterns.

        4. Data is searched.

        5. The information found is used by AI. (For example, by Waymo and Uber driverless cars.)

        Machine Learning technology helps to refine the queries by the addition of texts.

        That's it, nothing more or less.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge


    Other factors can be ignored? Like time of day, work load pressures and/or caffeine/blood ratio imbalances (without enough caffeine to revive the dead I don't do the brain meats thinkie time thing good). On that note, time for more tea.

    Tramp because thats what I feel like before the first (coffee) hit of the day.

  6. 's water music Silver badge


    I feel like there is a risk of unintended consequences where all the smart people will end up dying from liver disease

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @'s water music - Re: idiocracy

      Forget emails, just take a look at SMS messages and see how may people have liver disease.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: idiocracy

      Also, anyone who writes their emails in German.

  7. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

    Although there seem to be benefits to such a system, I shudder to think how this might affect employment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Drew Scriver - Oh, rats!

      Now I'm terrified when composing emails knowing that an algorithm created by a bunch of programmers with too much time on their hands will diagnose me with I don't know what disease.

      Seriously, I would suggest those guy to turn their attention to plants or rocks and allow us to carry on with our happy lives.

      1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

        Re: @Drew Scriver - Oh, rats!

        Uhoh. There's a typo in your reply. Quick - fix it before the AI-bot processes it and you find your insurance premiums going up!

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    If they aim this system at tweets or Farcebook comments the potential for discovering liver disease based on loquacity will leap to about 98% based on the current model.

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    I prefer the After version

    Depending on your target audience, the "After" version might be more suitable, since it gets to the point and avoids a load of flannel that isn't actually up for debate anyway. So, people who have honed their communication skills over the years and no longer sound like some Apprentice Twat who is trying too hard and lacks self-awareness ... these people have liver disease?

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Nigeria has liver disease

    The "before" email is phrased like every single Nigerian scam e-mail but I'm not sure whom to contact for my inheritance. (It has been a tough time for my family, for I have lost at least 1500 wealthy relatives in the past year)

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