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A brain-scanning MRI machine. Photo: Keith Srakocic / AP

New artificial intelligence, detailed in a paper published today in Nature Human Behavior, has helped researchers to teach machines to spot suicidal tendencies and help identify those at risk, per MIT Technology Review.

Why it matters: The success of the study reveals the great potential there is for AI to aid in psychiatry, in addition to the medical developments that AI has already contributed to, such as in detecting tumors and predicting depressive disorders.

Details of the study, as detailed by MIT Technology Review:

  • Researchers analyzed 34 young adults, even split between suicidal participants and a control group. Each person was sent through a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and given three lists of 10 words all relating to suicide (such as "death" or "distressed"), positive effects (such as "kindness" or "innocence"), or negative effects (such as "evil" or "guilty").
  • They studied five specific brain locations that were determined to be the best marks to distinguish the suicidal patients from the controls. Using those locations and words, the machine identified 15 of the 17 patients with suicidal behavior and 16 of 17 control subjects.
  • The suicidal participants were then split into two groups, those who had attempted suicide and those who hadn't, and the machine was trained to distinguish the differences.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
22 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.