Can Computers Decide When Humans Should Live Or Die?

According to researchers, a simple formula calculated by a computer could be more effective then asking loved ones whether or not to 'pull the plug'. The program predicted the wishes of a patient accurately 78% of the time where as surrogates only made accurate decisions 68% of the time. Besides being more accurate then a surrogate, researches also claim the program will also preserve ethics. If the idea of a computer choosing whether you live or die gives you the creeps, advanced directives remain your best bet for specifying your future medical decisions, but very few people ever fill one out.

A simple formula can predict how people would want to be treated in dire medical situations as accurately as their loved ones can, say researchers. The finding suggests that computers may one day help doctors and those acting as surrogate decision-makers to better estimate the wishes of people in a coma. By signing what is known as an "advance directive", people can specify what types of medical care they would want if they lost the ability to make decisions. Many people, however, do not complete such a directive in advance of these critical situations and their relatives or others must then decide on their behalf.