Last month, in a Financial Times feature about all this, came a remarkable quote from a partner at Health Advances, a Massachusetts-based tech consulting company. Wearables, he reckoned, would be only one small part of the ensuing story: just as important were – and no guffawing at the back, please – “bedside devices, under-mattress sensors, [and] sensors integrated into toilet seats”. Such inventions, it was explained, can “get even closer to you than your smartphone, and detect conditions such as depression or heart-rate variability”.
Fitbits and toilet sensors represent one aspect of the so-called Internet of Things. Aided by 5G technology, tens of billions of devices – cars, cookers, heating systems – will soon be connected. In theory, it will not be very hard to cross-reference, say, people’s alcohol consumption, exercise rates and friendship patterns – not to mention their medical records – and then either nudge or strongly push their lives in supposedly beneficial directions.
Essentially, all the health care devices your physician recommends you use, as well as all the prescriptions you’re supposed to take, will soon be monitored and analyzed at a very precise level (most likely in real-time). And then, depending on how well you follow directions, your insurance premiums and deductibles will adjust accordingly. Of course, outside data of your lifestyle choices will also go into this calculation and decisions about getting future treatment. But hey… the pitch is that you will live longer while participating in (or should we say surveilled by?) corporate/government run healthcare. At some point you’ll start wondering: Who owns my body?
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