Healthcare is one of the most significant areas of growth in the economy, thanks in part to an aging population.
And it is also an area that will be very powerfully impacted by Digital Technologies. We can see the beginnings of this in our new ‘Digital Hospitals’, such as the PA Hospital here in Brisbane.
For details see for example http://www.smh.com.au/queensland/princess-alexandra-hospital-brisbane-pioneers-digital-rollout-in-australia-20161030-gse6jq.html and http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2016/3/11/australias-digital-revolution-begins-in-brisbane-hospital
However, the initiatives at PA are only really just a small beginning to a very dramatic revolution in Healthcare as intimated in this article:
The article advertising Dr Daniel Kraft, a Harvard-trained oncologist-cum-entrepreneur-cum-healthcare futurologist, who will be a keynote speaker for a conference in Melbourne next week goes on to state that:
“The internet of things, constant connectivity, ever cheaper hardware, big data, machine learning: Kraft’s list of converging “meta-trends” goes on. “This set of technologies, especially when meshed together, offers a real opportunity to reshape and reinvent healthcare around the planet,” he says.”
He also highlights the challenge that this will bring to ‘Big pharma’ (part of the extremely wealthy elite of the US):
Big pharma is one of the first in line for a shake-up, Kraft warns. Today drug firms’ profits are based on blockbuster drugs for pervasive diseases. But what if medical science reveals (as it is doing) that there are really hundreds of sub-types of diabetes, say, or lung cancer? And what if a patient’s full genome sequence can show the likelihood of a blockbuster treatment not working?
Such issues have been raised in the past by great novelists such as Dr Robin Cook – “…Cook’s medical thrillers are designed, in part, to keep the public aware of both the technological possibilities of modern medicine and the ensuing socio-ethical problems which come along with it…” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Cook_(American_novelist)
Cook goes beyond the positive excitement & hype to look at the problem side of the technology to see how it can be used for evil purposes and financial gain for criminals & big business. For example in one of his books is writes about the patent side of biotechnology and both its good & bad social and ethical impacts.
He is also one who has written about the amazing benefits of ‘smart dressings’ for some time now.
His writings also alert us to the real need to teach ethics as part of any future Digital Technologies subjects such as the new ‘Digital Solutions’ subject proposed for Queensland for 2019.
For an interesting TED talk on ethics being of increasing importance in this domain listen to techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci:
Machine intelligence is here, and we’re already using it to make subjective decisions. But the complex way AI grows and improves makes it hard to understand and even harder to control. In this cautionary talk, techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci explains how intelligent machines can fail in ways that don’t fit human error patterns — and in ways we won’t expect or be prepared for. “We cannot outsource our responsibilities to machines,” she says. “We must hold on ever tighter to human values and human ethics.” Video here