On Revolution 3.0: health
I was privileged to attend the Wired Autumn conference about a month ago where there was a major theme of using technology, the power of crowds and social to improve our health.
I recall the above picture, more than any, as a real indicator of where the power of connected devices and connected people are heading.
If Revolution 1.0 was machines, enabling automation, Revolution 2.0 was about the sharing of information without borders or restrictions, Revolution 3.0 is about doing something valuable with all this data.
Apple’s focus on Health in iOS8 is just one simple recognition of the importance of the picture of our wellbeing, that connected devices and sensors provide and whilst Jeremiah often highlights (rightly) the power of the crowd in terms of commerciality with organisations like Uber, Shapeways and Air BnB, very different crowd-powered organisations are growing fast, ones which simply wouldn’t have existed just two or three years ago.
23andme for example, are taking a much more philanthropic (yet still commercial) approach to health and the crowd, aided by vastly reduced technology costs but importantly, a public desire for information about self.
Submitting your DNA enables you to get a picture of your ancestry and even find DNA-matched relatives you simply wouldn’t have know about through conventional ‘family trees’. The important difference though, is that whilst there’s an obvious purely commercial gain to providing this knowledge (in an ancestry.com type of way), you can also opt-in to have your data shared anonymously with researchers.
Imagine the powerful insights and human good that could be gained from recognising patterns of DNA deficiencies in people from a certain region or commonalities of health problems in like-DNA types…you get the picture.
None of this could have happened without the powerful mix of affordable sensors, connected people and a fast-growing mood for self-quantification beyond mere ‘pedometer metrics’. Furthermore, behind the scenes, DNA-mapping is happening via networks of previously unconnected researchers, sharing expertise and technology (basically crowd sourcing) to dramatically reduce both the speed and costs involved in mapping out DNA sequences to create antidotes or map illnesses. This was unheard of before now.
I wonder whether this narcissistic social web is to the Internet now, what massive pollution was to the Industrial revolution – a necessary evil from which ultimately great good comes, where we can use our ego-built networks to creat a better future for all of mankind.