Ever wanted to take more control the next time you go in for surgery?
It’s not something many people think about, but I recently read an article in the Atlantic (link here) where Larry Smarr, a man suffering from Crohn’s disease, brought a full 3-d model of his insides (which he dubbed “Transparent Larry”) with him to the operating table in order to help assist his surgeon for the 5 hour operation to remove a portion of his colon.
How did he do this? Well, he happens to head the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2, and has used a supercomputer to monitor his health and peer at his organs. Larry spent years taking precise measurements of every input (food) and output (you guessed it…) from his body, to help discover the initial signs of Crohn’s disease years before it would have been detectable from standard medical procedures.
His doctor who operated on him in 2016, Sonia Ramamoorthy, found the bizarre information supplied by her patient to be not only incredibly useful, but potentially groundbreaking as a possible next step in medical technology. “As a result, he arguably knows more about his own inner workings than anyone else ever has. His goal, as he puts it, is for each of us to become ‘the CEO of our own body.’ […] Inside Transparent Larry, Ramamoorthy got a jump on the surgery a week early. She could see which portion of the colon would have to be removed, where it was located, and how it was shaped. […] The virtual images were so helpful, she said later, that she wishes she could have them every time she operates: ‘It was wonderful. It was like the difference between driving around before and after Google Maps.’”
I was floored to think this type of 3-d data might someday be available not only to someone like Larry, but to the general populace. The current norm in surgical operations are to use a robotic equipment armed with multiple camera arms to help explore a patient’s insides during the procedure. But in Larry’s case, Ramamoorthy was able to shave nearly an hour off the procedure and could consult every facet of his insides over a week in advance to help familiarize the team who would be operating on him.
“Turning a two-dimensional MRI into three dimensions is not that hard, Larry told the audience at his lecture. The remaining challenge is to get more doctors to be like Ramamoorthy, and to get more engineers working in concert with them.”
While some matters may appear to be the same in our culture, others have drastically changed. Offhand the most significant of these being the development of technology and social media.
Before the turn of the millennium, social media was in its infancy. Most of it was done by way of email and Hotmail, but not much anywhere else. With the development of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, as well as the development of the iPhone, caused a great difference in our communication styles and how normal everyday people interact with one another. It would seem to some it would give way to giving people a voice where no existed before. In this regard this could be viewed as healthy and beneficial. Sort of like allowing the underdog a chance where none existed before.
Much of the younger under 25 generation these styles seem to have their interests directed by way of social media, and appear to interact with each other much less in person. It is undoubted that with the growth of social media, and with everyday technology becoming much more accessible and easy to process, this will hamper everyday communication but to what effects and to what degree? It could be possible that with this this may play a definitive role on one’s mental health, and if so, to what extent do people who are depressed become addicted to the point of wanting to interact with others around them?
Is it possible that social media may possibly take other methods of communication, and become the normal method of discussion and interacting with other people. Back 20 years ago or thereabouts, children went over to their friend’s house to play, or talked with them on the telephone. More and more it seems that social media is the preferred norm over other methods, and this may soon become the normal way to communicate with both friends and family.
About 8 months ago, I was talking with friends about that children’s singer, Raffi. We were reminiscing about singing “Baby Beluga” as children and how we were all going to go to a Halloween party as Raffi songs. When I got home that night, I decided to look Raffi up and see what he was up to. I found him on Facebook and Twitter and followed him. It became clear quickly that Raffi, still singing songs for children, has evolved into an anti-technology advocate, especially when it comes to children.
I didn’t get my first smartphone until 5 months ago. I will openly admit that I am addicted to my laptop and when it broke this past Sunday I actually became depressed, but when it came to my phone, I was insistent on never getting a smartphone. I didn’t want to become one of “those” people who, when out with friends, spends all their time playing on their phone. Now that I have my smartphone, I can see the negatives and the positives. While I am not addicted to it like I am with my laptop, I find it useful for the GPS and looking up information when a computer isn’t nearby. I also see how smartphones can disconnect you from real life because you are no longer having conversations when you are out with people.
Back to Raffi, he has a book about the dangers of technology and children. I haven’t read it, but I have followed him long enough on social media to know what the gist of it is. He has said that children do not use their imaginations when they are around technology. I find this very true in my own life. Ever since I got my first laptop, I’ve had the hardest time being motivated and finding ideas for my creative writing. I feel like my mind is so busy with information that I can’t filter it out to focus on what is important to me. Because of my addiction to the Internet, especially, I get anxious about being bored and having nothing to do. When I was a kid, I remember being bored, especially during the summer months when Dragnet Fridays came on Nick@Nite’s Summer Block Party. (I hated Dragnet). When I was bored, I didn’t have the Internet to entertain me, but I was very creative as a child and figured out things to do. This fear parents seem to have about their children having nothing to do and bothering them has resulted in kids being addicted to technology at young ages when they should be using their imagination and being kids. Kids should be out playing with friends, playing Cops and Robbers, riding their bikes, not in front of a computer.
While I know I can’t be without technology for very long, I don’t want my future children to be like me. I want them to experience camping in the wilderness and going for family bike rides like I did when I was a kid. I want a better world for them and an over-consumption of technology is not the answer.
Photo courtesy of Woot!
Global Connections and Technological Solutions
For the first time in the history of humanity, we have the tools to communicate across the globe and propose solutions to problems that have plagued humans since ancient times.
||Coordinated Environmental Policy
||Global Food Logistics
||Fair Trade Global Economy
Communication Enables Process
The Global Communication Newsletter is a publication of the IEEE Communication Society, a professional organization dedicated to the development of communication professionals and the propagation of communication networks worldwide. Despite their business interest in global communication, they are pushing forward with global designs for 5G speeds and multimedia-rich mobile networks. You can read more about their proposals and ideas in their newsletter. Outside of the United States, more people access the web though mobile devices than traditional computers, so a faster network with broader service areas and better multimedia support increases the ability for more human connections to be established than was ever possible in the past.
This enables processes to be developed for us to gauge environmental and human needs and respond accordingly. One sticking point that is addressed in the newsletter is the lopsided distribution of bandwidth in the radio frequency spectrum that constrains mobile networks while providing underutilized bandwidth to television networks. Solving this would grow global communication and responsiveness, and would allow the spread of knowledge and techniques that could save the planet and its citizens.
Some of the new ‘ecotech’ that we could spread virally, via our nifty new 5G networks, come in the form of fusion energy (if it is ever perfected), needleless vaccines, and nanoparticles that leech pharmaceuticals from water supplies that are subject to pharmaceutical waste. Other agricultural advances could increase yields while reducing pesticide use. An ecodesign website called inhabitat.com includes some awesome examples of the technologies on the horizon that could save the planet and its people. It also cites new developments in rapid communication as an enabling force for positive change.
For all of the negative energy that is directed at technology in some circles, it is easy to lose sight of the promise of technological advances in the areas of environmentally-friendly design and global communication. I, for one, choose to look at the promise of technology and do rest my hope in technology as the missing link in solving the 21st century problems that our global society faces.
The idea Phonebloks presents is a great alternative concept for a piece of technology almost everyone in the western world makes use of on a daily basis. It’s true that a vast majority of our technologies aren’t made to last. Is this more a problem of cost or simply the perpetual motion of the ever advancing technological field?
How I see it, any piece of technology is outdated after two years anyways. If you use it for more than Facebook and email that is. How would it be any different with this phone? The components would be constantly become outdated, meaning people would be in constant a “keeping up with the Jones’s” mentality. Ultimately this would cause just as much, if not more electronic waste overtime. Because people always want the newest toy.
In theory this would eliminate the competitive drive companies have to best one another. Now is that truly a good thing, or would it simply create yet another monopoly holding conglomerate. In the video the idea is present that different companies would make their own specific bloks for public purchase, but in the world of business there is always the giants who run the market. For example– would people simply buy certain components because they contain the Apple logo because they’re considered reputable now? Lastly how would operating systems work/be doled out, and how would actually get control over the “app market”?
Though Phonebloks has a good idea/concept I don’t feel it would ever work in reality, nor with the current way capitalism and the western world choose to conduct business. Just like any other campaign they blow the positives out of proportions, and skirt the negatives.