Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything

Artificial Intelligence

I have been writing about technology for more than 20 years. I never considered myself a futurist, but I have generally been accurate in predicting what is just over the hill, around the curve. Usually, my predictions have been about technology already available, but perhaps obscured or downplayed by many. I have often said in jest if The New York Times wrote something was a fad or had peaked out, it was sure to be a major hit. This was true for WiFi, blogging, YouTube, and other technologies.

Of all the things which are candidates for the “next big thing”, I have no doubts about what will be the biggest: artificial intelligence (AI). The term AI has been around for more than 50 years. It has flared up in interest as a “big thing” on multiple occasions and then flared down, but, this time, it is for real. The reason I say that is because of two exponentially growing factors.

First is the amount of data available about just about everything: data from sensors, tweets, emails, postings, GPS coordinates, medical metrics, invoices, micro-payments, Internet searches, and on and on. In the past, it was too costly to store everything. Today, storage is extremely inexpensive and makes it possible to save everything. Consumers saving tens of thousands of pictures on multiple devices is a tiny example. The growth is exponential.

AI Growth

The other factor is the power of computers. An iPhone is more than 100 times as powerful as the first supercomputer (1976). Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and others are building web servers with even more incredible power. Estimates vary, but there are probably 50 million servers currently running. The growth is exponential.  

The graph above shows what it means for something to be exponential. Things grow and grow and, all of a sudden, the growth takes off. Tim Urban, author at Wait But Why, said the arrow shows where we are with AI. I agree. The combination of vast amounts of data and a vast amount of computing capacity to make sense of the data will make the computers smarter than humans and just about every aspect of our lives will be changed as a result. I will be writing more posts about AI and providing examples we can all identify with. The WSJ had a good summary of the impact last week. See How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything.

Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Blogging, Internet Technology, Personal Computing, Technology, WiFi Tagged with: , , , ,

Medical Breakthroughs

Doctors

The medical breakthroughs continue to amaze me and reinforce my view the next ten years’ progress will surpass the last 100 years. The single thing that makes me so optimistic is the incredible individuals who are so dedicated and so smart. Today, I read about Michael J. Yaszemski, an alumni of Lehigh University, where I went to engineering school. He has bachelors and masters degrees in chemical engineering from Lehigh, an M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT. Dr. Yaszemski is a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dr. Yaszemski performs spinal surgery at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. His specialty is treating patients with skeletal defects requiring reconstruction. He also directs Mayo’s Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, where he builds biodegradable scaffold polymers and uses tissue engineering strategies to promote bone and spinal cord regeneration. By combining deep knowledge of both medicine and chemical engineering, breakthroughs are happening. At some point it seems likely patients with badly damaged spinal cords will be able to walk again.

It is remarkable achievers like Dr. Yaszemski which fuel my optimism about the future of healthcare. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Read interview with Dr. Yaszemski here.

Posted in Cancer, Healthcare, Medical Research Tagged with: , , , ,

DNA and the Genome

Protein

3D rendered conceptualization of protein structure

I have been fascinated with DNA and genetics for years, and have read a number of books about them. It seems the more I read, the less I know. The terminology is mind numbing and still expanding. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known living organisms. It was first isolated by Friedrich Miescher in 1869. Its molecular structure was identified by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. Since then, the pace of new understanding has continued to accelerate. 

A collaboration of German, American and Swiss scientists has created a proteomics structural database of more than 330,000 synthesized peptides.  As I read about what the scientists have done, it makes my head hurt trying to understand it. The word proteome is only about 20 years old. The proteome is the entire set of proteins expressed by a genome. Our genome is the complete set of genes present in all of our cells. When scientists use the word “expressed”, they mean our genome contains instructions which cause proteins to be created in our body. Proteins perform a vast array of human functions. The term peptides in the research collaboration refers to chains of amino acids which constitute proteins.

When I set out to write Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can’t Survive Without It in 2001 (and an update in 2016), my goal was to make it easy for people to understand what the Internet is all about and how it works, in layman terms. Readers have said I accomplished that. Some day, I hope to be able to write a book about DNA and the genome and make it understandable. I have a long way to go before I understand enough to begin such a project. My friend, Vint Cerf, wrote an article called Grumpy Cells about how certain aspects of our genome work. I asked him how he learned enough to write it. He suggested I read Bruce Albert’s Microbiology of the Cell. He said it was 1,700+ pages of terrific stuff. I may need a cruise around the world to read it.

Posted in Genomics Tagged with: , , , , ,

Healthcare Cost: High Spenders and Low Spenders Get Same Results

Healthcare Apps

The Journal of the American Medical Association (Internal Medicine) published a new study on the cost of healthcare. Researchers analyzed 485,000 Medicare patient hospital visits between 2011 and 2014. The visits involved almost 22,000 hospitalists, medical specialists who work in the hospital. The number of tests and consultations prescribed for the patients varied widely, even within the same hospital. The ones who prescribed the most for patients spent $1,055 more than the hospitalists who prescribed the least.

The research looked at two key medical outcomes: mortality and readmission within 30 days. The analysis showed there was no difference in either of these outcomes between the high spending and low spending physicians. It would be unwise to assume an easy fix to this problem. There are many complex factors including training, culture, workload, and hospital policies. However, the study does suggest high-spending doctors could do less without harming patients.

Each day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 and join Medicare. At the current $10,000 per year of healthcare cost, we are adding $100,000,000 to the annual healthcare bill every day. The debates about premiums, deductibles, insurance, who’s in and who’s out are important, but the real problem is the cost of healthcare. The study I report on here is one tiny example of the variance. Most industries are constantly looking for ways to gain consistency and eliminate variances in their costs. One industry, which represents nearly 20% of our economy, needs to catch up. Read more about American healthcare cost in Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare.


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Posted in Health Attitude, Healthcare, Healthcare cost, Healthcare Policy Tagged with: , , , ,

Healthcare Common Sense: What Congress and the President Should Do

Healthcare Common Sense

The good news is there is a lot of discussion in political circles about healthcare. The bad news is our political leaders, on both sides of the aisle, are not discussing the real problem. In Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare, I wrote about the many problems of the American healthcare system, but the number one problem is the cost of the healthcare which is delivered to Americans.

The discussions are about premiums, insurance, deductibles, mandates, and healthcare taxes. These are legitimate topics of discussion, and a lot of adjustment is needed in all these areas, but the real problem is not insurance related cost, but the actual cost of the healthcare. I saw an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist last week. He saw me for less than five minutes. The charge was $460. That is one of millions of examples of the problem. Our healthcare is too costly. 

There are many reasons why the cost of our healthcare is so high, and I wrote about them all in Health Attitude. In hopes of getting more people to see the problems, I published an article on LinedIn this week called, “Healthcare Common Sense: What Congress and the President Should Do“. I outlined five of the key problems and solutions to go with them. It is not rocket science. In fact, I think most people who read it will say it is common sense.

Why can’t our political leaders think about common sense? Because they are tied to special interest groups who spend hundreds of millions of dollars to support politicians who make their top priority to get re-elected. The real cost of healthcare is critically important to Americans, but our leaders are not putting us first. The number one problem behind the high cost of healthcare is Congress. I hope my article will have some impact. Please share it with your friends.

Posted in Electronic Health Records, Health Attitude, Healthcare, Healthcare cost, Healthcare Policy Tagged with: , , ,
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