Meanwhile, our public representatives are still comfortable saying they don’t understand technical issues. Last week, during the debate of his proposals to increase fees for making a Freedom of Information request, Brendan Howlin was asked how one of his amendments would affect citizens looking for data from the State’s electronic databases. His reply was to cheerfully admit he didn’t even understand the question. “I have no idea what an SQL code is. Does anyone know what an SQL code is?
If today’s developer must know touch interfaces, tomorrow’s must know brain interfaces.
Healthy Baby Kit by Frog. Simple, neat idea. Why doesn’t it exist yet: “Systems like these require intricate coordination and a lengthy fine-tuning period.”
Neil Harbisson is the first person on the planet to have a passport photo that shows his cyborg nature — in his UK passport, he’s wearing a head-mounted device called an eyeborg. The color-blind artist says the eyeborg allows him to see color, and he wants to help other cyborgs like himself gain more rights.
Atul Gawande: Slow Ideas
As with most difficulties in global health care, lack of adequate technology is not the biggest problem. We already have a great warming technology: a mother’s skin. But even in high-income countries we do not consistently use it. In the United States more than half of newborns needing intensive care arrive hypothermic.
The most common approach to changing behavior is to say to people, “Please do X.” Please warm the newborn. Please wash your hands. Please follow through on the twenty-seven other childbirth practices that you’re not doing.
Then, there’s the law-and-order approach: “You must do X.” We establish standards and regulations, and threaten to punish failures with fines, suspensions, the revocation of licenses. […]
Neither penalties nor incentives achieve what we’re really after: a system and a culture where X is what people do, day in and day out, even when no one is watching. And that’s what we want: for skin-to-skin warming, hand washing, and all the other lifesaving practices of childbirth to be, quite simply, the norm.
To create new norms, you have to understand people’s existing norms and barriers to change. You have to understand what’s getting in their way. So what about just working with health-care workers, one by one, to do just that? With the BetterBirth Project, we wondered, in particular, what would happen if we hired a cadre of childbirth-improvement workers to visit birth attendants and hospital leaders, show them why and how to follow a checklist of essential practices, understand their difficulties and objections, and help them practice doing things differently. In essence, we’d give them mentors.
The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper also revealed on Wednesday that one in three Swedish doctors feels they spend too much time on filling in paperwork, rather than treating their patients. OECD statistics show that Sweden has one of the highest doctor-to-patient ratios but still has one of the lowest rates of doctors visits per citizen annually. Swedish patients also report feeling that they don’t get enough time with their healthcare provider. A summary of the situation will be handed to the Social Affairs Minister Göran Hägglund on Wednesday by the Swedish Agency for Health and Care Services Analysis (Myndigheten för vårdanalys).Sweden’s health system ‘worst in the Nordics’
“Why it looks this way is a mystery,” agency head Fredrik Lennartsson told SvD. “We haven’t been able to precisely quantify how much time the doctors spend with their patients but there is clearly a lot of potential for using their time and competence more efficiently than we do today.
It is game over for 23 and me
Advances in genome science will improve what tests offer, but these improvements will be small. While the hope is based on big data, the reality is that most diseases are simply not genetic enough. Other risk factors such as diet, body weight, smoking, exercise and stress are too important. And big data cannot change the biology of diseases – it will not make them more genetic.
That is why genetic testing for common diseases will never become as predictive as champions of genetic testing hope.
Brett Scott: Open Source Finance
By ‘Open Source Finance’, I don’t just mean open source software programmes. Rather, I’m referring to something much deeper and broader. It’s a way of framing an overall change we might want to see in the financial system.
At core, Open Source is a philosophy of access: access to the underlying code of a system, access to the means of producing that code, access to usage rights of the resultant products that might be created with such code, and (in keeping with the viral quality of copyleft) access to using those products as the means to produce new things.
If I were a teenager today I’d be hacking biology. Creating artificial life with DNA synthesis. That’s sort of the equivalent of machine-language programming. If you want to change the world in some big way, that’s where you should start — biological molecules.Geek Power: Bill Gates in Harvard Political Review 2010
This undercuts the notion that all DIY biologists are inexperienced if enthusiastic amateurs. And the report argues that this expertise and access to sophisticated lab facilities mean that the DIY community has the potential to generate products that will benefit society. As a result, it recommends that the US government should fund networks of community lab spaces.Nature: the DIY dilemma
This is a revolutionary shift. Once upon a time, medicine was a discipline based on the nuanced diagnosis and treatment of sick patients. Now, Big Data, networked computers and a culture obsessed with knowing its numbers have moved medicine from the bedside to the desktop (or laptop). The art of medicine is becoming the science of an insurance actuary.Statins by Numbers - NYTimes.com