Mo wakes me at 6am because one of my New Year’s resolutions was to rise half an hour earlier. Using silent mode, she tells me: “we’ve had an upgrade”.
I have learnt the difference between “we” and “I”. “We” means Mo and 200 million similar devices, the data cloud they link to and the AIs that analyse and interpret the data. “I” is the interface I choose to call Mo, which has learnt my habits, likes and dislikes and, if I stop to think about it, runs a lot of my life.
Over coffee she explains the upgrade. “I’ve got enough biodata now, Chris, so I can start interpreting it for you if you like. I have been telling you how your heart rate, blood pressure, weight and so on compare with your peer group.”
I recall not being too pleased when she started that but my new exercise regime soon got my numbers into line.
“Now I can give you some likely outcomes. Probabilities based on data for your group.” I want an example.
“The New Year’s Eve party,” she says. I wince. “Those 16 units of alcohol and five cigars” – was it really five cigars? No point in asking, she is always right – “on the assumption you do this every New Year’s Eve, it will shorten your life by 2.3 months and increase the chance of you suffering some kind of serious respiratory illness before the age of 75 by 1.7 per cent.”
I do not like that example, I tell her. Give me another.
“Based on the experience of your peer group, going on holiday to Laos, Nigeria or Kyrgystan this year would result in a one in eight chance of a severe gastro-intestinal illness.”
What about diet? Steak, chips and claret every day?
“Increased risk of heart attack, diabetes and obesity. Exact numbers if you like?”
She mentioned life expectancy earlier, so she must have data now. Tell me.
“On the basis of your medical history, all of which you gave me access to, and of current diet and lifestyle, you get to between 91 and 94, with an 89 per cent level of probability.”
But what is that based on?
“We have at least 10 years of biodata for 119,579 males in your cohort, born within two years of you and matched by occupation and lifestyle. We have all their medical data too. And we have a range of data on 22 million males, plus limited access to several large insurance databases.”
I remember reading about insurers paying what seemed like enormous sums to partner with Mo’s crowd. My free service in return for sharing my data seemed like a bargain. So if I stick to the NYE pattern?
“I’d advise you to buy both life insurance and income protection insurance immediately. Your probabilities of claiming would be far in excess of what any insurance company would assume. Do you want a quote? It would be a good bet for you.” All right, Mo. Enough. Quiet mode now.
Chris Gilchrist is director of Fiveways Financial Planning, a contributing author to Taxbriefs Advantage and edits the IRS report