Technological advancements improve our health

BBC reported the topic “Should we trust big tech with our health data?” in July 2021. This topic becomes more important and gains more attention from us. This is because Big Data has both advantages and disadvantages for improving our health.

When it comes to the advancements, of course one of them is to improve our health better than before. Let us imagine that we would live 200 or 300 years ago. At that time, we did not have any digital product and relied too much on our observation. It means that we tried to find some correlation between the symptoms of certain disease and our observations. For example, when someone experienced high temperature and showed other symptoms, other people must observe these conditions. As a result, they could make a decision about his or her condition.

However, thanks to the technological advancements, especially in digital technology, we can gather data relating our health more. For instance, without noticing it or not, iPhones record how many steps we walk every day. Next, Artificial Intelligence can analyze the correlation between these data and diseases. We can see an example in the report.

AI promoted early detection of dementia

There are split-second images that flash in front of a patient. S/he is supposed to indicate with his or her thumbs whether s/he has seen an animal or something else. Even though it takes just 60 seconds, there is a serious intention here. Dr. Thomas Sawyer is the chief operating officer of Cognitivity Neuroscience that developed the app mentioned: “It’s a kind of early warning system for cognitive impairment.”

He also mentioned: “The tool solves a global problem. Early impairment is just not detected. This could have a huge impact on outcomes for patients, and healthcare systems. This is because late diagnosis costs trillions of dollars every year in global healthcare.” Designed as a simple, quick, and easy test to spot the earliest signs of dementia, the app makes use of AI. As a result, software can “learn” and adapt by itself.

Privacy Concern

We can see the other example of Apple Watch. In fact, the device can offer cardio fitness notifications. Therefore, it seems that we will receive many benefits for our health from these devices. However, is it true that there is no disadvantage?

Of course, the answer should be “No”. Our privacy concern is just one example. There is no guarantee that tech companies will never use our health data for another purpose. In other words, the companies send advertisements based on our health data to us without noticing it. It means that tech companies could change our purchase activities, or might control them based on the data.

Thus, there is no true or wrong answer relating to this issue. In the conclusion of the report: “There is the potential social benefits of sharing lots of data about healthcare. Also it can help us live longer, happier and healthier. If we see only good aspects of the issue, we will be able to agree with this conclusion. However, it might better for us to keep the disadvantages in our mind as well.”