Of course, no 21st Century tour of sci-tech developments would be complete without a discussion of artificial intelligence, the white-hot area of research that’s expanding outward like a mini Big Bang. AI is everywhere these days, it seems, but a curious development over the summer suggests just how weird the future is likely to be.
In August, researchers published a remarkable study that suggests artificial intelligence can effectively identify people with clinical depression—just by looking at their Instagram photos. It gets complicated, but essentially the AI system analyzes criteria such as color, shading, and selection of particular image filters. According to the researchers, the AI system has a 70 percent success rate, which is statistically bananas. When combined with other techniques, the AI method could help identify people in need just by skimming their social media posts.