Sunday July 13, 2014

Living Well


Question: What if staying healthy were as easy as viewing a Gmail or Facebook message or Skyping a friend?

In addition to the multitude of those kind of entertainment and information repositories, we also have a rudimentary medical data infrastructure including the European system Denigma (, dedicated to send, receive and manage humungous quantities of health and aging-related data and the RU2045 initiative, created by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, which is intended to create digital alternative solutions.

The first challenge is to find patterns within wildly different formats and sources of raw data. Back in 2010, I presented to Humanity Plus (H+),a conference attended by scientists, futurists and business people at Harvard, and explored Citizen Science and the collecting of data from all sorts of sources from large numbers of people and processing everything with a very sophisticated program termed artificial general intelligence (AGI). I thought it would take a population of citizen scientists with site-licensed access via Medicare health card-enabled University of Saskatchewan PAWS style accounts to access 20,000 medical journals.

My H+ presentation was a bit amateurish compared to what I understand now.

However, the networks of leading-edge computation, biology, health and longevity folks I met and now follow as a result of this once in a lifetime opportunity continue to be a source of knowledge, inspiration and mentorship.

The keynote H+ speaker was Ray Kurzweil, an expert in Artificial General Intelligence who is now the head of engineering at Google and proponent of developing computer systems that act and think like a human brain (AGI).

Coincidentally, Google is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Calico, which is described as wanting to commercialize healthspan  and lifespan extension for the global population. Google packs the big bucks to bring computational horsepower and hundreds of millions of users to bear on the issue, and that is a paradigm shift.

Saskatchewan’s Medicare system with a million consumers is now heavily economically burdened by crisis management and palliation costs for the most expensive customer base ever, the baby boomers. What integrating big data and AGI with a population chocked full of devices may do is allow preventative and regenerative medicine to make sense of biology and allow resource allocation. With this type of Medicare we will love long and well till perhaps the last six months of life when everything will fall apart all at once rather than over the 10-15 years of decline we consider normal now.

What is still missing is a population packing a broad range of personal devices to collect health information for upload. Now that we are thinking ahead to Christmas and the New Year to come, perhaps toys like scales that measure body fat, tissue water, wearable devices that measure blood pressure, heart rate, glucose and devices like brain pattern readers that all link to phones to send all our data somewhere are worthy of consideration. “Google glasses” are now in beta testing and represent the platform to be available in 2014 to connect devices to infrastructure.

Looking to 2015 and beyond, the X-prize folks headed by Peter Diamandis are driving development of a whole family of devices termed “tricorders” that can monitor virtually every cell or chemical parameter 24/7/365.

Systems like “Google glasses” may enable ordinary folks to scan complex journal papers while “glass” reads along and Google in the background simplifies and explains the big words and sentences to the wearer.

I believe most would benefit from this in coordination with network access to a complementary method of consultation with and mentorship from an MD or nurse practitioner, and that ought to be considered as a goal for Saskatchewan Medicare policy. And perhaps this is where Calico is headed, to be the voice in the background helping us help ourselves to a live healthier and happier.

As usual, I hope to have a powerpoint with more details upon on by the time you read this. So here is wishing you and yours all a Merry Christmas and better health and more happiness for 2014.


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