Category Archives: Healthcare

Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities’

Digital stardust won’t magically make future cities more affordable or resilient.
By Bruce Sterling – The term “smart city” is interesting yet not important, because nobody defines it. “Smart” is a snazzy political label used by a modern alliance of leftist urbanites and tech industrialists.

Smart-city devotees all over this world will agree that London is particularly smart. Why? London is a huge, ungainly beast whose cartwheeling urban life is in cranky, irrational disarray. London is a god-awful urban mess, but London does have some of the best international smart-city conferences.

The digital techniques that smart-city fans adore are flimsy and flashy—and some are even actively pernicious—but they absolutely will be used in cities. They already have an urban heritage. When you bury fiber-optic under the curbs around the town, then you get internet. When you have towers and smartphones, then you get portable ubiquity. When you break up a smartphone into its separate sensors, switches, and little radios, then you get the internet of things.

However, the cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the internet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

“Smart cities” merely want to be perceived as smart, when what they actually need is quite different. more>

Development, self-interest, and the countries left behind

By Sarah Bermeo – The self-interest of developed countries affected policy on foreign aid, trade agreements, and even climate finance, as I argue in my new book, Targeted Development.

Targeting foreign aid to areas where potential spillovers to the donor are high is not only the practice of great powers.

Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland have all favored more proximate countries in the post-2001 period—when you control for measures of need such as income, disasters, and civil war.

For Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden, aid is also associated with bilateral migrant flows.

The more a donor imports from a developing country, the higher aid flows are to that country; this is especially true for Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

For states not targeted, however, the picture is bleak.

Where migration—and hence remittances—is low, foreign aid will also be low. When foreign aid is low, the chances of being granted preferential access to wealthy country markets is lower too.

Where geographic distance is great, economic engagement will lag behind. more>

Updates from GE

Will Analyze Medical Data To Find Better Treatment

By Maggie Sieger – A cancer diagnosis or a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) often bring confusion, fear and questions about the best course of treatment. That’s why a group of doctors and scientists at GE Healthcare and Roche Diagnostics are looking for a new way to predict the most effective treatment for an individual by applying data analytics to the problem.

Over the last decade, big data made inroads into personal fitness, energy, politics and other fields. Now it’s moving into healthcare. The idea is that smart algorithms looking for insights in terabytes of medical information will help physicians better serve their patients with earlier diagnoses and customized treatment plans.

The partnership between GE and Roche announced in January will create digital platforms for so-called “precision health” in oncology and critical care. The oncology platform, the first of its kind, will take “in-vivo” data obtained directly from the patient by radiological imaging and monitoring equipment to characterize the tumor at the anatomical and physiological level.

It will combine the data with “in-vitro” information from laboratory tests that characterize the tumor at the molecular level by looking at tissue pathology, blood-based biomarkers, genomic alterations (cancer-relevant mutations) and other factors. The system also will integrate data from electronic medical records, medical best practices and the latest research. more>

The high cost of budgetary paralysis

By Alice M. Rivlin – It is both frightening and embarrassing that the world’s most experienced democracy is currently unable to carry out even the basic responsibility of funding the services that Americans are expecting from their government in the current fiscal year.

Limping from one short-term continuing resolution to another, combining individual appropriations bills into unwieldy omnibus bills that no one is able to study or even read, and threatening to close the government (or default on the debt) if certain conditions are not met are all symptoms of a deeply broken decision-making process.

The costs of budgetary dysfunction are high and rising, although not easy to quantify. Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, cannot make plans that enable them to spend money efficiently.

The most worrisome cost of the Congress’s seemingly-endless wrangling over near-term federal funding is that it crowds out serious discussions of the daunting longer-term challenges that face the nation’s economy. more>

Post-Davos Depression

By Joseph E. Stiglitz – I’ve been attending the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland – where the so-called global elite convenes to discuss the world’s problems – since 1995. Never have I come away more dispirited than I have this year.

The world is plagued by almost intractable problems. Inequality is surging, especially in the advanced economies. The digital revolution, despite its potential, also carries serious risks for privacy, security, jobs, and democracy – challenges that are compounded by the rising monopoly power of a few American and Chinese data giants, including Facebook and Google. Climate change amounts to an existential threat to the entire global economy as we know it.

Perhaps more disheartening than such problems, however, are the responses.

But, by the end of their speeches this year, any remaining illusion about the values motivating Davos CEOs was shattered. The risk that these CEOs seemed most concerned about is the populist backlash against the kind of globalization that they have shaped – and from which they have benefited immensely.

They may lack the candor of Michael Douglas’s character in the 1987 movie Wall Street, but the message hasn’t changed: “Greed is good.” What depresses me is that, though the message is obviously false, so many in power believe it to be true. more>

Screw Emotional Intelligence–Here’s The Key To The Future Of Work

By Natalie Fratto – The AEI is a standardized test, implemented 10 years ago, in 2035, to replace the SAT. It has become a globally accepted metric for aptitude and projected performance in the modern workplace.

Colloquially called “the Qs,” the AEI tests three variables:

  • Adaptability quotient (AQ)
  • Emotional quotient (EQ)
  • Intellectual quotient (IQ)

While each “Q” matters, the AEI weights AQ the most. Strong scores in adaptability mean that you’re eligible for the “salaried track,” which leads to a three-year contract with an employer that commits significant sums toward your retraining every one to six months.

With lower scores, you must rely on the “gig track,” which can mean more flexibility and higher near-term rewards, but only short-duration contracts and no supported retraining. There is no inherent safety net if you bet too long on the wrong gigs in dying industries instead of continually refocusing on emergent needs.

Welcome to the future. more>

Using thought to control machines

Brain-computer interfaces may change what it means to be human
Economist – Both America’s armed forces and Silicon Valley are starting to focus on the brain. Facebook dreams of thought-to-text typing. Kernel, a startup, has $100m to spend on neurotechnology. Elon Musk has formed a firm called Neuralink; he thinks that, if humanity is to survive the advent of artificial intelligence, it needs an upgrade. Entrepreneurs envisage a world in which people can communicate telepathically, with each other and with machines, or acquire superhuman abilities, such as hearing at very high frequencies.

These powers, if they ever materializes, are decades away. But well before then, BCIs (brain-computer interfaces) could open the door to remarkable new applications.

Over 300,000 people have cochlear implants, which help them to hear by converting sound into electrical signals and sending them into the brain. Scientists have “injected” data into monkeys’ heads, instructing them to perform actions via electrical pulses.

Technology changes the way people live. Beneath the skull lies the next frontier. more>

Leisure, the Basis of Culture

BOOK REVIEW

Leisure, the Basis of Culture, Author: Josef Pieper.

An Obscure German Philosopher’s Timely 1948 Manifesto for Reclaiming Our Human Dignity in a Culture of Workaholism

By Maria Popova – Today, in our culture of productivity-fetishism, we have succumbed to the tyrannical notion of “work/life balance” and have come to see the very notion of “leisure” not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy. And yet the most significant human achievements between Aristotle’s time and our own — our greatest art, the most enduring ideas of philosophy, the spark for every technological breakthrough — originated in leisure, in moments of unburdened contemplation, of absolute presence with the universe within one’s own mind and absolute attentiveness to life without, be it Galileo inventing modern timekeeping after watching a pendulum swing in a cathedral or Oliver Sacks illuminating music’s incredible effects on the mind while hiking in a Norwegian fjord.

So how did we end up so conflicted about cultivating a culture of leisure? more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Researchers Boost Efficiency and Stability of Optical Rectennas
By John Toon – The research team that announced the first optical rectenna in 2015 is now reporting a two-fold efficiency improvement in the devices — and a switch to air-stable diode materials. The improvements could allow the rectennas – which convert electromagnetic fields at optical frequencies directly to electrical current – to operate low-power devices such as temperature sensors.

Optical rectennas operate by coupling the light’s electromagnetic field to an antenna, in this case an array of multiwall carbon nanotubes whose ends have been opened. The electromagnetic field creates an oscillation in the antenna, producing an alternating flow of electrons. When the electron flow reaches a peak at one end of the antenna, the diode closes, trapping the electrons, then re-opens to capture the next oscillation, creating a current flow.

The switching must occur at terahertz frequencies to match the light. The junction between the antenna and diode must provide minimal resistance to electrons flowing through it while open, yet prevent leakage while closed.

“The name of the game is maximizing the number of electrons that get excited in the carbon nanotube, and then having a switch that is fast enough to capture them at their peak,” Baratunde Cola, explained. “The faster you switch, the more electrons you can catch on one side of the oscillation.” more>

Related>

When exponential innovation meets the infancy of “Industry X.0”


Accenture – With everything from agriculture to aeronautics in the midst of paradigm shift, a cautious approach to adopting new technologies simply can’t keep pace.

Nor will adopting just one innovation suffice. Effective adaptation almost always involves a combination of innovations working together: a dash of machine learning here, a sprinkle of automation there.

As Accenture Chief Strategy Officer Omar Abbosh describes: “You’re combining a series of innovations, one on the back of the next, to do something fundamentally different… You’ve all heard about Big Data and artificial intelligence and internet of things… They are all very meaningful in their own right, but when they come together they can have a massive impact on business and society.”

The benefits of combination abound. For example, amalgamating just five technologies—autonomous robots, AI, 3D printing, big data, and blockchain—could save industrial-equipment companies a total of $1.6 billion. more>