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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

Start Measuring Your Sleep Quality at Home!

I’m sure a lot of people hate their jobs and others just because they always have a bad sleep.Today’s news are full of scary facts and side effects from missing sleep. It’s time to improve that.

I’ve been measuring my sleep quality for over a year and now I sleep less but still wake up in a more energized way. How? With wearable trackers.

I use Withings Pulse once a week on my wrist at night to measure my sleep quality. How long deep sleep periods I have and how much time it takes to go asleep. Then I use the Morpheuz app on the Pebble smartwatch that wakes me up at the best time when I’m not in deep sleep any more. Jackpot.

This is the topic I cover in my new video on the Medical Futurist Youtube channel.

IBM Watson is the Stethoscope of the 21st Century

In 2011, people witnessed an interesting competition on the television quiz show Jeopardy. It featured the two best players in the history of the show, Ken Jennings, who had the longest unbeaten run of 74 winning appearances, and Brad Rutter, who had earned the biggest prize of $3.25 million. Their opponent was a huge computer with over 750 servers and a cooling system stored at a location so as not to disturb the players. The room–sized machine was made by IBM and named after the company’s founder, Thomas J. Watson. It did not smile or show emotion, but it kept on giving good answers. At the end, Watson won the game with $77,147 leaving Rutter and Jennings with $21,600 and $24,000 respectively.

Cognitive computers have been developing rapidly over the last few years following three technological breakthroughs. One is cheap parallel computation due to a new kind of chip called a graphics processing unit (GPU). The second one is accessible big data due to massive databases, web cookies, wearable devices and decades of search results. The third one is building better algorithms due to the services of Netflix, Google, Amazon and the others.

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From Stethoscope to Cognitization

People, especially in medicine, do not like change. Moreover, after many of my talks, physician colleagues ask me whether artificial intelligence (AI) might replace them in their jobs and whether algorithms can eventually become better at making diagnoses. Both will happen but the job of physicians will transform into a new role because of that. They finally have more time to deal with patients instead of chasing the information they would need. They will get access to that immediately. Cognitive computers will help physicians diagnose the same way stethoscope could change the medical profession from the early 19th century when René Laennec developed a wooden tube that worked like an ear trumpet to listen to cardiac and lung sounds.

The use of AI does not have to lead to the loss of the human touch. In 1997, IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue could beat Garry Kasparov, the reigning chess grand master that time. He said he could have performed better if he had access to the same databases as Deep Blue. So later, freestyle matches were organized in which supercomputers could play against human chess players assisted by AI (they were called human/AI centaurs). Guess what! In 2014 in a Freestyle Battle, the AI chess players won 42 games, but centaurs won 53 games. The best potential pair is a human with technology. This is the only balance that can lead to a positive future with more and more disruptive innovations including ever-improving cognitive computing but an also ever-improving human intelligence and wisdom. This is the winning combination.

If AI can improve a chess player, it can improve a physician as well.

What even the most acclaimed professors know cannot match cognitive computers. As the amount of information they accumulate grows exponentially, the assistance of computing solutions in medical decisions is imminent. While a physician can keep a few dozen study results and papers in mind, IBM’s Watson can process millions of pages in seconds. This remarkable speed has led to trying Watson in oncology centers to see how helpful it is in making treatment decisions in cancer care. We need to prepare for its use but IBM has taken the first steps. Watson does not answer medical questions, but based on data it comes up with the most relevant and likely outcomes. Physicians make the final call. Computer assistance can only facilitate the work of physicians, not replace it. Just like how stethoscope did.

Read more stories about how artificial intelligence can impact medical decision-making in the new book, The Guide to the Future of Medicine.

NanoPlug: An invisible nano-tech hearing aid

I came across a very interesting project on Indiegogo.com about developing a really small hearing aid that could be a radical step towards improving the everyday lives of people with hearing problems. It’s time for hearing aids to become really small and comfortable.

As the founder of the company, Nevena Zivic told me, the tech industry is hard at work developing solutions for the 642 million people worldwide who complain of hearing loss. Yet only 23 percent of them with hearing loss use hearing aids due to 2 major reasons, social stigma and extremely expensive devices.

Nanoplug developed the world’s first 100% invisible, affordable, instant fit, user programmable hearing aid that helps a younger, hipper audience with hearing loss to solve their problem with embarrassment and social stigma using the latest nanotechnologies. An instant-charging nanobattery makes this hearing aid smaller than a coffee bean. The Nanoplug is the most radical thing to happen to hearing loss since the invention of the aid itself. The IGG page has a video and points on why Nanoplug is different.

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Television Documentary about the Future of You

QUEST published a TV documentary about how the so-called wearable revolution will change how we live our lives. An excerpt:

Today, there are tens of thousands of health and fitness apps that consumers can download onto their smart phones and tablets. From tracking the calories you burn to helping manage your stress through guided meditation, these apps are proving to be popular: within the first six months of 2014, their use increased by more than 60 percent, according to one recent study.

Why being proactive is crucial for your health?

You have to find your own way of staying healthy!

The so-called wearable revolution has just started and will see a huge number of home-diagnostic and monitoring devices coming to the market in the coming months and years, but being healthy starts with simple things. It should basically be about being healthy and happy. And the only way to achieve that is to be proactive finding your own methods.

Since 1997, I have logged basic parameters about my life including the time when I went to sleep and woke up; scores between 1 and 10 about my mental, physical and emotional well-being. I have logged these for over 6000 days and not one day is missing. It takes me about 2 minutes every day and I cannot even describe how much it have helped me shape my lifestyle, find ways to be more health and happy. I needed data to make these changes, but everyone has to find their own motivation.

Here is an example of how my scored have changed over the last 2 weeks.

I hate running therefore I use the Zombies Run application to motivate myself by being a zombie attack survivor looking for supplies and running away from zombies.

It doesn’t matter whether your method includes technology or social solutions, but you have to find your own ways to stay healthy. Without proper health management, even modern medicine cannot help us.

Please share your methods about how you try to stay healthy on the Facebook page and Youtube channel of the medical futurist.

Subscribe to the Medical Futurist Youtube Channel!

I started an exciting project by launching my Medical Futurist Youtube Channel in which I will talk about trends, concepts, technologies, ethical considerations and devices that will shape the future of medicine.

I covered my new book and the need for being proactive in your health in the first videos. More to come soon!

Here is the trailer:

How to keep your job in the coming waves of new technologies?

A lot of medical professionals are worrying about their jobs whether they lose it in the near future due to the coming waves of new technologies. Many of them think they will get replaced by robots and algorithms. My theory about the future focuses on the balance between using disruptive technologies and keeping the human touch. It means we do need to interact with people, although robots and algorithms could perform much better than humans in many areas. But why not combining both?

One of the major obstacles is physicians being resistant to the adoption of new technologies because they are afraid. I think they should not be. Here is how to make sure you will keep your job in the future whether you work in medicine or not.

1) Be a master of information management: Being up-to-date and getting access to the right information at the right time should be a master skill for all of us. Tackling the information pollution is going to be a basic skill but as long as it is not the case, it is going to be a career advantage. You should be perfectly up-to-date in your fields of interest from now on. It requires some efforts but it’s not rocket science.

2) Know more than your decision makers: Having a better knowledge about ongoing and upcoming trends than those making decisions above or for us will be the key in thinking ahead. You should possess all the potentially useful details and pieces of information that allow you to make a step faster than them.

3) Have a new kind of skill set: In different positions before, it was enough to be good at one thing or two, but in the coming era of inter-connected devices, experts and solutions, a network-based approach is very much needed. This new skill set should include digital literacy; advanced problem solving; project management and perfect communication skills on- and offline whatever position you are working in. If you think it’s enough to be good at one thing, you already lost.

4) Exploit the advantages of being human: There might be an algorithm that once will diagnose with a better success rate than people, but there is a range of reasons why the human touch will always be inevitable and crucial. Make sure to bring those skills to the fore that truly leverage the power of the human connection.

5) Improve constantly mentally and physically: Being human in the future will not automatically represent an advantage. This is why we have to constantly improve our cognitive skills, learn new things and keep ourselves sharp. Wearable devices from activity to sleep trackers; and online services such as Lumosity.com or Focusatwill.com could facilitate that.

6) Prepare for future technologies: Do you have all the required knowledge and skills that let you make your own assumptions about the future? You should know about all the trends and technologies that could assist you in your life or job and be able to fast make informed decisions accurately. It does require preparation from now on. Right now, nobody is ready for what is coming next. But soon we all should be.

7) Automate that can be automated: Making tasks and processes around us automated doesn’t mean we become less human. Contrarily, removing inefficient and unnecessary elements of our daily routine gives us a chance to show why being human will always mean something special and will always be an advantage. If we cannot prove that, we deserve to be replaced.

The battle has only begun and we have a lot to do. But if we stick to these rules, it is going to be hard to replace us. Game on.

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