With news from Google that it can predict flu outbreaks based on key-word searches – searches using the term “flu” itself or symptoms such as “sore throat,” “fever” or “general crankiness” (See http://www.google.org/flutrends/) it makes me wonder how this could impact liability or insurance coverage. The timing of knowledge is often an important factor in cases and coverage disputes. Does the person citing the phrase “knew or should have known” suddenly have a new friend in determining when someone should have known something? What about disputes over whether an event was “expected or intended”? Is there now a new way to prove reasonable expectation? Since Google can say when everyone else seemed to know there was going to be an event of some kind, why didn’t you? Then the privacy issues abound. If Google isn’t broadcasting trends in search strings for topics that might relate to liability or insurance coverage, will there be pressure to provide those statistical trends? I would enjoy hearing what attorneys think. As Google executes its 300-year plan to organize the world’s data – it’s much touted mission – how much might that organization impact “what we knew and when we knew it”?
If Google can predict flu outbreaks, why not financial meltdowns?