Health Monitoring Ad Nauseam

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So the new Apple Watch promises to monitor our every virtual health status as technology and person blend to become one.  



However, the question raised in the New York Times is whether this level of continuous monitoring is really all that necessary?



“One central rule of doctoring is that you only gather data that will affect your treatment?”



But how can more data hurt you?



– Change in measurements are often normal: For example, “blood pressure jumps up and down in response to thoughts, hydration, and stress.”



– Data sometimes outstrips our ability to understand it:  So collecting more and more data may actually end up concealing the needle in the haystack, rather than culling the crucial piece of evidence we need for a diagnosis and treatment. 



– Data can sometimes belie the underlying truth: “Some patients die with ‘Harvard numbers, [and in others] test results can can look bad even when the patient is fine.”



– Obsessive-compulsive monitoring may actually stress us out: “If you were dieting would stepping on the scale 1,000 times a day help you lose weight?” Perhaps, the stress of monitoring every stat we generate may actually make us sick from fear and worry.  



The point is that as they say, “there can be too much of a good thing”–monitoring and checking is helpful, but not every minute of every day without some intelligent filtering and analysis. 



Perhaps, the technology will evolve to wear the monitoring is unobtrusive and where the artificial intelligence is there to more or less accurately decipher true warning signs from run of the mill changes in bodily functions, and where data is aggregated to get a holistic picture and diagnosis of the person rather than a snapshot of individual functions.



No one can live under a microscope and making ourselves sick with an endless stream of health tracking and worries is not helpful. 



However, in time, the technology will most certainly evolve to where it will be discreet, accurate, and truly lifesaving. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Time To Spread The Magic

Time To Spread The Magic

So I’m not the biggest fan of Disney theme parks — maybe that is not a popular thing to write.

But to me, the rides alternate between fake or nauseating (when they’re not broken down), the characters are outdated, the parks are hot, overcrowded, and the lines and wait times are long, and the ticket prices are sort of crazy for what you’re getting (not).

Let’s see, a day at Disney or day at the beach–uh, I’ll take the beach any day!

But Disney is doing something magical these days.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports how Disney’s new MagicBands are using technology to make the theme park experience more convenient, even if not more fun.

The MagicBands are like an all-in-one electronic link between you and Disney:

– No need for an admission ticket, because the MagicBand does that.

– Reserve your favorite rides, use your wrist band.

– Hotel room keys, that’s right the band unlocks your door.

– Shopping at Disney kingdom, the band functions as your debit/credit card.

– Being greeted by name or wished a happy birthday, the bands make your experience more personal.

What’s more Disney uses the bands for “big data” analytics–for capturing your likes and preferences for rides, restaurants, food, and souvenirs–and this adds up to customer service enhancements like restocking shelves, opening up reservations, expedited queues, and even targeted mail and text messaging/advertising.

The bands have radio frequency identification tag/chips (RFID) as well as GPS sensors, so Disney knows who you are, where you are, and even much of what you’re doing.

Spooky from a privacy standpoint–sure, you are really sitting there exposed in just about every way.

But this technology has arrived, not just at Disney, but via embedded RFID in your smartphones or your body someday soon.

The synthesis of man and machine…the mystery is gone in the magic kingdom, but maybe the service gets better. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To Archive Or Not

To Archive Or Not

Farhad Manjoo had a good piece in the Wall Street Journal on the Forever Internet vs. the Erasable Internet.

The question he raises is whether items on the Internet should be archived indefinitely or whether we should be able to delete postings.

Manjoo uses the example of Snapshot where messages and photos disappear a few seconds after the recipient opens them–a self-destruct feature.

It reminded me of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the tape recording of the next mission’s instructions that would then self-destruct in five seconds…whoosh, gone.

I remember seeing a demo years ago of an enterprise product that did this for email messages–where you could lock down or limit the capability to print, share, screenshot, or otherwise retain messages that you sent to others.

It seemed like a pretty cool feature in that you could communicate what you really thought about something–instead of an antiseptic version–without being in constant fear that it would be used against you by some unknown individual at some future date.

I thought, wow, if we had this in our organizations, perhaps we could get more honest ideas, discussion, vetting, and better decision making if we just let people genuinely speak their minds.

Isn’t that what the First Amendment is really all about–“speaking truth to power”(of course, with appropriate limits–you can’t just provoke violence, incite illegal actions, damage or defame others, etc.)?

Perhaps, not everything we say or do needs to be kept for eternity–even though both public and private sector organizations benefit from using these for “big data” analytics for everything from marketing to national security.

Like Manjoo points out, when we keep each and every utterance, photo, video, and audio, you create a situation where you have to “constantly police yourself, to create a single, stultifying profile that restricts spontaneous self-expression.”

While one one hand, it is good to think twice before you speak or post–so that you act with decency and civility–on the other hand, it is also good to be free to be yourself and not a virtual fake online and in the office.

Some things are worth keeping–official records of people, places, things, and events–especially those of operational, legal or historical significance and even those of sentimental value–and these should be archived and preserved in a time appropriate way so that we can reference, study, and learn from them for their useful lives.

But not everything is records-worthy, and we should be able to decide–within common sense guidelines for records management, privacy, and security–what we save and what we keep online and off.

Some people are hoarders and others are neat freaks, but the point is that we have a choice–we have freedom to decide whether to put that old pair of sneakers in a cardboard box in the garage, trash it, or donate it.

Overall, I would summarize using the photo in this post of the vault boxes, there is no need to store your umbrella there–it isn’t raining indoors. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Spinster Cardigan)

Web 1-2-3

Ushering In Web 3.0

The real cloud computing is not where we are today.

Utilizing infrastructure and apps on demand is only the beginning.

What IBM has emerging that is above the other cloud providers is the real deal, Watson, cognitive computing system.

In 2011, Watson beat the human champions of Jeopardy, today according to the CNBC, it is being put online with twice the power.

Using computational linguistics and machine learning, Watson is becoming a virtual encyclopedia of human knowledge and that knowledge-base is growing by the day.

But moreover, that knowledge can be leveraged by cloud systems such as Watson to link troves of information together, process it to find hidden meanings and insights, make diagnoses, provide recommendations, and generally interact with humans.

Watson can read all medical research, up-to-date breakthroughs in science, or all financial reports and so on and process this to come up with information intelligence.

In terms of computational computing, think of Apple’s Siri, but with Watson, it doesn’t just tell you where the local pizza parlors are, it can tell you how to make a better pizza.

In short, we are entering the 3rd generation of the Internet:

Web 1.0 was as a read-only, Web-based Information Source. This includes all sorts of online information available anytime and anywhere. Typically, organizational Webmasters publishing online content to the masses.

Web 2.0 is the read-write, Participatory Web. This is all forms of social computing and very basic information analytics. Examples include: email, messaging, texting, blogs, twitter, wikis, crowdsourcing, online reviews, memes, and infographics.

Web 3.0 will be think-talk, Cognitive Computing. This incorporates artificial intelligence and natural language processing and interaction. Examples: Watson, or a good-natured HAL 9000.

In short, it’s one thing to move data and processing to the cloud, but when we get to genuine artificial intelligence and natural interaction, we are at all whole new computing level.

Soon we can usher in Kurzweil’s Singularity with Watson leading the technology parade. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Listening Beyond The Superficial

Listening Beyond The Superficial

“I know you hear me, but are you listening to me?”

That’s something one of my teachers used to say to the class back in yeshiva day school.

The New York Times reports on a company that is pioneering the study of “Emotional Analytics.”

Beyond Verbal is helping to “reach beyond the verbal” and listen for mood, attitude, and personality of the speaker.

The point is that if you listen carefully, you can decode a person’s mood–almost like a “human emotional genome.”

Beyond Verbal can already identify “400 variations” of emotions not based on the words chosen, but rather based on the tone and frequency of use.

For example, is the person telling you over and over again about a products problems–and are they getting annoyed that you aren’t getting it!

Through a speech analytics engine that examines patterns of verbal use, we can classify whether a person is dissatisfied, escalating, and so on.

This can be extremely useful, for example, in call centers that service (perhaps some irate) customers.

Also, speech analytics could help us with uncovering deception from terrorists or moles in the government by detecting threatening or nervous emotions that the subjects are trying to hide.

Potentially, this software could be helpful in our personal lives as well in terms of identifying the context and providing the E.I. (emotional intelligence) to understand what a person is r-e-a-l-l-y saying to us, rather than just perhaps the superficial words themselves.

If we can not only hear someone else, but listen better and perceive more precisely what they are trying to tell us and what they are feeling, then we can problem-solve and resolve situations better and more quickly.

Software like this could definitely help keep me out of the doghouse at home. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Information High

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A new article by Andy Blumenthal called “The Information High” at Public CIO Magazine (29 November 2012).

“In addition to being slaves to our things–including technology gadgets–we are also addicted to the data and information they serve up.”

Hope you enjoy! 😉

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Leading With Business Intelligence

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Check out this great video on Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) put out by MicroStrategy (Note: this is not an endorsement of any particular vendor or product).

Watch the user fly through touchscreen tables, charts, graphs, maps, and more on an iPhone and iPad— Can it really be this easy?

This fits in with my firm belief that we’ve got to use business analytics, dashboarding, and everything “information visualization” (when done in a user-centric way) to drive better decision-making.

This is also ultimately a big part of what knowledge management is all about–we turn data into actionable insight!

What is so cool about this Mobile BI is that you can now access scorecards, data mining, slicing and dicing (Online Analytical Processing–OLAP), alerting, and reporting all from a smartphone or tablet.

This integrates with Google maps, and is being used by major organizations such as U.S. Postal Service and eBay.

Running a business, I would want this type of capability…wouldn’t you?

As Federal Judge John E. Jones said: “What gets measured get’s done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, and what gets rewarded, gets repeated.”