AI+News: Nowcasting the Global Risks Interconnections from the Web

[ Minerva ]

Time Control:

Predicted Graph

Risk categories:


We envision a future where journalists will no longer be limited to report past or current affairs, but they will be empowered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to write about future events with a fair degree of certainty.


We aim to predict and visualize the (non-obvious) interconnections of global risks that will be at the core of tomorrow’s news.

Minerva leverages news data collections available in the Web and uses Artificial Intelligence based on Machine Learning (AI/ML) to discover the multiple relations among global risks, a data-driven approach that is more appealing in terms of timeliness and efficient discovery of such relations than current methodologies based on opinion surveys.

We have released Minerva as an open source project under the Apache License 2.0. The code can be found at the following GitHub repo:

This work is is partially funded by Google's Digital News Innovation Fund (DNI Fund) - Google News Initiative and supported by The Insight Centre for Data Analytics in the School of Computer Science at University College Dublin (UCD).

Future / Now

We present nine articles about possible futures based on Minerva’s predicted Global Risk Interconnections Graph. Some of these reflect scenarios that have already begun to crystallize, some others are more speculative. The stories do not pretend to predict what is going to happen with 100% certainty, but they represent a possible disruptive future based on concrete global trends and correlations of real events and risks interconnections.

These notes were written by a journalist that made use of Minerva’s graph. He outlined the process he used to write the articles and his interaction with the graph as follows:

A Method to use Minerva's Global Risks Graph written by a Journalist for Journalists

  1. Explore the correlations and pick the ones that seem more interesting or less expected.
  2. Use the timeline to see how the correlations have evolved over time. This helps determine if a correlation is new or if it is part of a longer process.
  3. Analyze locations and people in the correlation. Look for the ones that repeat among the topics.
  4. Create a hypothesis in the form of a headline, such as "Technology will spread infectious diseases"
  5. Research the correlation using your headline as a premise, and the list of people and locations as a reference.
    1. Use your own knowledge of the topic to decide where to look first.
    2. Look up news stories, academic research, and statistics from credible institutions.
    3. Usually you will find that there is already data that backs the independent parts of the premise. What the AI graph does is to unveil correlations between these parts, and from this correlations you can determine a prediction.
  6. Keep in mind that the predictions work best when they focus on global trends instead of specific people or places. The global risks graph uses locations and people on its link explanations only to help us determine patterns and tendencies, but it would be very risky to use this data to predict the future of a specific country or public figure.

At the bottom of each story, there is also an explanation of what aspects from the graph were more useful for the story.

Technology will Spread Disease

As technology changes the way human interactions happen in the real world, new public health hazards arise. From dating apps to the spreading of misinformation and trends that dismiss common scientific knowledge (such as the anti-vaccines movement), populations in developed nations will face new health risks associated with their use of technology ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: The category "Rapid and massive spread of infectious diseases" shows an interconnection with "Adverse consequences of technological advances". This correlation did not appear at the beginning of the year, but stars to show up intermittently between May and June 2018. Locations differ, but a constant is United States and East Coast cities locations like New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore. West Coast cities and European locations also show up from time to time.

A New Wave of Nationalism and Anti-Immigration

The anti-globalization sentiment around the world (ironically, disseminated in the planet through the channels of communication that globalization created) will keep bringing far right groups and politicians to power. A new wave of nationalism and anti-immigration will keep gaining traction ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph:"Large-scale involuntary migration" shows a strong correlation with "Terrorist attacks" and "Profound social instability", and one common location: Chemnitz, Germany. A review of the news related to this city reveals that it is a place with strong anti-immigrant and anti-refugee activity. The graph also shows the recurrence of the far-right German party AfD, Alternative for Germany. Other locations in Europe and other parts of the world are mentioned.

Cyberattacks as Weapons of Mass Destruction

So far, the common understanding of a cyberattack is related to the stealing of sensitive information. Private photos, bank accounts, passwords: those are the usual targets. But as countries’ most vital systems become more and more reliable on interconnected networks, so the damage-capacity of cyberattacks increases ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph:The category "Large-scale cyberattacks" is linked to "Data fraud or theft", which seems expected, but also to "Profound social instability", "Interstate conflict", "Weapons of mass destruction", among other serious global threats. This can only mean that cyberattacks are growing in importance and that their destructive capabilities can be applied on different fronts. Many of the locations that appear in the graph are US cities.

Man-made Environmental Disasters Become More Likely

Nuclear power reactors provide 11% of the world electricity, and this number is increasing. As of October 2018, there are currently about 50 power reactors being constructed in different parts of the planet, mainly Asia and Russia, as reported by the World Nuclear Association ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph:"Man-made environmental damage and disasters" shows correlations with "Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation", "Extreme weather events", "Failure of critical infrastructure", among others. Locations repeatedly shows regions of the world connected to nuclear power and oil extraction, particularly in India. Norway also pops up, but this is because of Norwegian oil company Equinor, which is making headlines for its efforts of environmental sustainability. Subsequent research shows that more and more nuclear reactors are being built around the world, and that oil production is also on the rise.

Global Trade Uncertainty and a New Recession

The trade wars between China and United States have already started. A new trend of trade protectionism, mostly promoted by the Trump administration, will disrupt global markets and most likely affect not only other regional economies, but also the businesses and people in the form of inflation ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: "Unmanageable inflation" shows correlation to other economic risks such as "Asset bubbles in a major economy", "Energy price shock", "Illicit trade", "Unemployment or underemployment", among others. Although the term “trade” does not appear, locations repeatedly shows China and the United States, and other Asian and European regions. The "Organizations and others" columns shows the NAFTA renegotiation and lists locations and economists in Europe. This can be interpreted as Europe being worried about the trade wars between China and US, with experts already predicting dire repercussions around the world.

Water Becomes a Precious Asset

People around the world are using more freshwater than ever. The United Nations indicate that ``Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably delivered, especially in arid regions'' ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: For most of 2018 there is a clear correlation between "Water crises", "Extreme weather events" and "Failure of critical infrastructure". This is important because other correlations have been historically linked to the problem of water scarcity, but climate change and the fact that more people consume more water than ever are two factors that become crucial to understand the problem. After seeing these correlations, it is easy to find statistics and studies that separately demonstrate how serious the water issue is.

Many Cities won't Be Able to Catch Up with Climate Change

Massive natural disasters will happen more often, bringing devastation to urban and rural areas around the world. Critical infrastructure will fail. Reconstruction efforts will be wiped by new disasters, creating cycles of suffering for millions of people, who will have to survive during extended periods of time without water, food supplies, electricity, or a sustained income ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: "Failure of urban planning" is linked to a myriad of issues, from "Data fraud" to "Weapons of mass destruction", but a common factor seems to be the risk of devastation and economic crisis due to climate change. Locations show cities all over the world. In this case, the graph serves like a giant arrow pointing at global warming, and research outside of the graph shows enough data to predict which cities are updating their environmental policies and infrastructure, and which cities are not.

AI Disrupts the Global Job Market

The advancement of technology and Artificial Intelligence generate fear that machines will replace humans in the workplace. The real issue, however, is that technology and AI redefine the dynamics of labor; the big risk, as it often happens with tech-related issues, is to stay dormant. Savvy employers soon understand that, in order to take advantage of AI, their workforce has to be retrained ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: This story is interesting because it is based on the non existence of a correlation. Common sense would advice to look for an evident connection between "Unemployment or underemployment" and "Adverse consequences of technological advances", but Minerva simply does not show this correlation. Unemployment looks more related to the collapse of institutions and critical information infrastructures. The absence of a more clear correlation, added to available research about AI and the job market, are the origin of this global risk.

People Brave Recession with a New Kind of Money

A new financial crisis hits the world. Blaming banks and big corporations, people find a way to face the recession without relying on traditional financial systems: cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies allow them to buy goods online and be part of an alternative economy that is based on the blockchain, which is decentralized and therefore outside of the control of governments and central banks ...
[read full story]

Explanation from the graph: The Economic Risks categories show many correlations among themselves and point at the collapse of traditional systems and institutions. "Adverse consequences of technological advancements" also show connections with Economic Risks. Research shows that economic forecasts are already discussing a new world recession. Other papers and articles predict the role of technology in this issue, and the conditions for cryptocurrencies to take the spotlight.