AI, Health Care, Genomics, Fitness Apps, Mobile Apps, Social Media and Beyond

It was probably in the 1970s that I first read Richard Brautigan’s poem, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. I grew up working with computers; I like to speak of myself as a digital aborigine, yet it seems like now, we may be moving closer to Brautigan’s poem.

This isn’t without its concerns. One recent article had the headline, Our tech future: the rich own the robots while the poor have 'job mortgages'.

This reminded some of my friends online of Fritz Lang’s Metroplois

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Yet I’m not so sure the future is quite as bleak.

I work at a health center that focuses on underserved populations. It probably isn’t a typical health center of this time because we are very interested in how we can use technology to improve health outcomes for everyone. This has led me to keep an eye on a bunch of developments, and here, I’ll do a little bit of my own sci-fi futurist writing.

Recently there has been a lot of interest in Google Deepmind’s Go match against Lee Se-dol. Yet it is important to remember there are other AI’s. IBM’s Watson comes to mind. Of course, so does Wintermute and Neuromancer, but that’s a whole different blog post.

Watson is interesting to me for a couple reasons. Watson has been doing a lot of interesting stuff in health care. (See some of the episodes of Conversations on Health Care for more on this.) Watson is now branching out into Social Media.

Some interesting work in the nexus of health care and social media includes Linking social media and medical record data: a study of adults presenting to an academic, urban emergency department

So, what might Watson, looking at health care and social media be like? Artefact has its ideas, described in What iPhone-Based Health Care Could Look Like In 10 Years. They talk a little bit about fitness monitoring apps connected with sites like PatientsLikeMe or 23andMe, but the article doesn’t talk about artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, North Face is adding IBM Watson to its shopping app. So, imagine an AI connected to social networks, genomic data, fitness data, marketing information, and anything else it can get to, all with a proactive, Siri like interface…

“Good morning, Aldon. It looks like it should be a nice day today, and you didn’t get much exercise yesterday. You should really try to take a walk down Main St at lunch time today. You don’t have anything in your calendar conflicting with that, and there are several Ingress portals you can capture…Before you get to work, I want to make sure you’re aware of these articles about the health center, opioid addiction, and telemedicine… Later in the day, if it doesn’t get too crazy, you should get in touch with your old friend Bill. He seems to be having a rough time right now… You should read his Facebook posts and reply or give him a call.”

“Thanks, Watson. Can you post something uplifting on his Facebook posts for me? “

“No problem, Aldon. By the way, I don’t want to nag, but it is really time to have your vision checked again. Do you want me to check your calendar and set up an appointment for you?”

“Yes please.”

With that, I get up and make my oatmeal.