Article | August 12, 2020
More than half of U.S. adultsHow Data Helps Wellsource Combat Chronic Disease suffer from chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. These diseases are leading causes of death and disability and a big factor in the country’s $3.5 trillion annual healthcare tab. At Wellsource, we’re working to change those numbers. Our customers—health plans, healthcare providers, accountable care organizations, and brokers—use our health risk-assessment and reporting tools to identify and track the risk of chronic illness in their patient populations. The insights our tools provide make it possible to run truly effective wellness programs that keep people healthy.
Article | August 18, 2020
Phishing and email-borne malware has a disproportionately large impact on the healthcare industry. Among the 3,950 breaches examined in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 521 took place within health care organizations, making the industry the most frequently victimized among those included in the report. Financially-motivated criminal groups are particularly likely to target health care organizations, and human error often plays a role in their success.
Article | November 20, 2020
As smart machines, data, and algorithms usher in dramatic technological transformation, its global impact spans from cautious optimism to doomsday scenarios. Widespread transformation, displacement, and disaggregation of world labor markets is speculated in countries like India, with an estimated 600 million workforce by 2022, as well as the global labor market. Even today, we are witnessing the resurgence of 'hybrid' jobs where distinctive human abilities are paired with data and algorithms, and 'super' jobs that involve deep tech. Our historical response to such tectonic shifts and upheavals has been predictable so far - responding with trepidation and uncertainty in the beginning followed by a period of painful transition. Communities and nations that can sense and respond will be able to shape social, economic, and political order decisively. However, with general AI predictably coming of age by 2050-60, governments will need to frame effective policies to respond to their obligations to their citizens. This involves the creation of a new social contract between the individual, enterprise, and state for an inclusive and equitable society.
The present age is marked by automation, augmentation, and amplification of human talent by transformative technologies. A typical career may go through 15-20 transitions. And given the gig economy, the shelf-life of skills is rapidly shrinking. Many agree that for the next 30 years, the nature and the volume of jobs will get significantly redefined. So even as it is nearly impossible to gaze into the crystal ball 100 years later, one can take a shot at what jobs may emerge in the next 20-30 years given the present state. So here is a glimpse into the kind of technological changes the next generation might witness that will change the employment scenario:
RESTORATION OF BIODIVERSITY
Our biodiversity is shrinking frighteningly fast - for both flora and fauna. Extinct species revivalists may be challenged with restoring and reintegrating pertinent elements back into the natural environment. Without biodiversity, humanity will perish.
Medicine is rapidly getting personalized as genome sequencing becomes commonplace. Even today, Elon Musk's Neuralink is working on brain-machine interfaces. So you may soon be able to upload your brain onto a computer where it can be edited, transformed, and re-uploaded back into you. Anti-aging practitioners will be tasked with enhancing human life-spans to ensure we stay productive late into our twilight years. Gene sequencers will help personalize treatments and epigenetic therapists will manipulate gene expression to overcome disease and decay. Brain neurostimulation experts and augmentationists may be commonplace to ensure we are happier, healthier, and disease-free. In fact, happiness itself may get redefined as it shifts from the quality of our relationships to that between man-machine integration.
THE QUANTIFIED SELF
As more of the populace interact and engage with a digitized world, digital rehabilitators will help you detox and regain your sense of self, which may get inseparably intertwined with smart machines and interfaces.
DATA-LED VALUE CREATION
Data is exploding at a torrid pace and becoming a source of value-creation. While today's organizations are scrambling to create data lakes, future data-centers will be entrusted with sourcing high-value data, securing rights to it, and even licensing it to others. Data will increasingly create competitive asymmetries amongst organizations and nations. Data brokers will be the new intermediaries and data detectives, analysts, monitors or watchers, auditors, and frackers will emerge as new-age roles. Since data and privacy issues are entwined together, data regulators, ethicists, and trust professionals will thrive. Many new cyber laws will come into existence.
HEALING THE PLANET
As the world grapples with the specter of climate change, our focus on sustainability and clean energy will intensify. Our landfills are choked with both toxic and non-toxic waste. Plastic alone takes almost 1000 years to degrade, so landfill operators will use earthworm-like robots to help decompose waste and recoup precious recyclable waste. Nuclear fusion will emerge as the new source of clean energy, creating a broad gamut of engineers, designers, integrators, architects, and planners around it. We may even generate power in space. Since our oceans are infested with waste, a lot of initiatives and roles will emerge around cleaning the marine environment to ensure natural habitat and food security.
TAMING THE GENOME
As technologies like CRISPR and Prime-editing mature, we may see a resurgence of biohackers and programmable healthcare. Our health and nutrition may be algorithmically managed. CRISPR-like advancements will need a swathe of engineers, technicians, auditors, and regulators for genetically engineered health that may overcome a wide variety of diseases for longer life-expectancy.
THE RISE OF BOTS
Humanoid and non-humanoid robots will need entire workforce ecosystems around them spanning from suppliers, programmers, operators, and maintenance experts to ethicists and UI-designers. Smart robot psychologists will have to counsel them and ensure they are safe and friendly. Regulators may grant varying levels of autonomy to robots.
DATA LOADS THE GUN, CREATIVITY FIRES THE TRIGGER
Today's deep-learning Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) can create music like Mozart and paintings like Picasso. Such advancements will give birth to a wide array of AI-enhanced professionals, like musicians, painters, authors, quantum programmers, cybersecurity experts, educators, etc.
FROM AUGMENTATION TO AUTONOMY
Autonomous driving is about to mature in the next few years and will extend to air and space travel. Safety will exceed human capabilities and we may soon reach a state of diminishing returns where we will employ fewer humans to prevent mishaps and unforeseen occurrences. This industry will need supportive command center managers, traffic analyzers, fleet managers, and people to ensure onboarding experience.
BLOCKCHAIN BECOMES PERVASIVE
Blockchain will create a lot of jobs for its mainstream and derivative applications. Even though most of its present applications are in Financial Services, Supply Chain, and Asset Management industries, very soon its adoption and integration will be a lot more expansive. Engineers, designers, UI/UX experts, analysts, auditors, and regulators will be required to manage blockchain-related applications. With Crypto being one of its better-known applications, a lot of transaction specialists, miners, insurers, wealth managers, and regulators will be needed. Crypto exchanges will come under the purview of the regulatory framework.
3D PRINTING TURNS GAME-CHANGER
Additive manufacturing, also popularly called 3D printing, will mature in its precision, capabilities, and market potential. Lab-grown, 3D-printed food will be part of our regular diet. Transplantable organs will be generated using stem cell research and 3D printing. Amputees and the disabled will adopt 3D-printed limbs and prosthetics. Its applications for high-precision reconstructive surgery are already commonplace. Pills are being 3D printed as we speak. So again, we are looking at 3D printers, operators, material scientists, pharmacists, construction experts, etc.
THE COLONIZATION OF OUTER SPACE
Amazon's Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX signal a new horizon. As space tech gets into a new trajectory, a new breed of commercial space pilots, mission planners, launch managers, cargo experts, ground crew, experience designers, etc. will be required. Since we have ravaged the limited resources of our planet already, mankind will need to venture into asteroid mining for rare and precious metals. This will need scouts and surveyors, meteorologists, remote bot operators, remotely managed factories, and whatnot.
THE HYPER-CONNECTED WORLD
By 2020, we already have anywhere between 50-75 billion connected devices. By 2040, this will likely swell to more than 100 trillion sensors that will spew out a dizzying volume of real-time data ready for analytics and AI. A complete IoT system as we know it is aware, autonomous, and actionable, just like a self-driving car. Imagine the number of data modelers, sensor designers and installers, signal architects and engineers that will be needed. Home automation will be pervasive and smart medicines, implants, and wearables will be the norms of the day.
DRONES USHER IN DISRUPTION
Unmanned aerial and underwater drones are already becoming ubiquitous for applications in aerial surveillance, delivery, and security. Countries are awakening to their potential as well as possibilities of misuse. Command centers, just like that for space travel, will manage them as countries rush to put in a regulatory framework around them. An army of designers, programmers, security experts, traffic flow optimizers will harness their true potential.
SHIELDING YOUR DATA
With data come cyber threats, data breaches, cyber warfare, cyber espionage, and a host of other issues. The more data-dependent and connected the world is, the bigger the problem of cybersecurity will be. The severity of the problem will increase manifold from the current issues like phishing, spyware, malware, viruses and worms, ransomware, DoS/ DDoS attacks, hacktivism, and cybersecurity will indeed be big business. The problem is that threats are increasing 10X faster than investments in this space and the interesting thing is that it is a lot more about audits, governance, policies, and compliance than technology alone.
FOOD-TECH COMES OF AGE
As the world population grows to 9.7 billion people in 2050, cultured food and lab-grown meat will hit our tables to ensure food security. Entire food chains and value delivery networks will see an unprecedented change. Agriculture will be transformed with robotics, IoT, drones, and the food-tech sector will take off in a big way.
QUANTUM COMPUTING SOLVES INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS
Finally, while the list is very long, let’s touch upon the advent of qubits, or Quantum computing. With its ability to break the best encryption on the planet, the traditional asymmetric encryption, public key infrastructure, digital envelopes, and digital certificates in use today will be rendered useless. Bring in the quantum programmers, analysts, privacy and trust managers, health monitors, etc.
As we brace for the world that looms large ahead of us, the biggest enabler that will be transformed itself will be Education 4.0. Education will cease to be a phase in your life. Life-long interventions will be needed to adapt, impart, and shape the skills of individuals that are ready for the future of work. More power to the people!
Article | October 21, 2020
Consciousness—it’s one of the biggest questions out there.
One thing that people today have in common with those from the earliest ages is questioning consciousness and our own existence. It’s taken different forms through the years, but the questions are largely similar at their core and the answers are still at large after all this time.
The good news is that while we don’t have the answers yet, or even a timetable for when we might get those answers, we know more now than we have at any other point in human history.
It’s easier to share information than it ever was in the past, and in this era, even an average person can study the big questions about life without the requirement of a formal education or access to a university.
But in this age where it’s easier to ask questions, what kind of answers are we actually being led towards?
We could be in a simulation—but not in the way you think
One of the more modern theories on consciousness proposes that we might be living in a simulation. And modern really is the right word to describe this one, because it would have been an unthinkable idea even 20 years ago.
However, as computing has grown stronger and stronger over the years, a key question was raised by these advancements: Is it possible that somewhere, computers are already powerful enough to run an entire universe? And if that’s the case, are we living in one of these simulations?
While this sounds outlandish, it’s certainly a theory that has at least some support. That includes support from Elon Musk, who says we probably are living in a simulation.
Don’t think, however, that we’re living in some version of the Sims catered to an alien audience. Games might be the first thing that comes to mind for us when simulations are brought up, but a more serious answer is quite a bit different from that idea.
Rather than a game, such a simulation may be for, to put it simply, historical purposes. That is to say, instead of some advanced alien civilization running their own simulated universe, it may be advanced humans from the future simulating the lives of their ancestors.
But this simulation of the past would be real enough that for the simulated person on the other side, everything feels real and there’s no way to tell that it is a simulation.
This isn’t just an idea from science fiction, as much as it might sound like one. It was proposed by Nick Bostrom, an Oxford professor. There’s a lot of possible reasons why a future society might want to run a simulation in this way, ranging from studying history to preserving the records of the past.
If you don’t think this would be possible from a technical perspective, just consider the jump in quality between early computers and the computers of today. Computing has already improved exponentially within our lifetime. In the very far future, this growth may have continued to heights that would have been unimaginable previously, just like computers today would have been unimaginable to someone used to the first computers.
Quantum mechanics could be part of the explanation
We don’t know much about how the brain works. While there’s been a lot of scientific progress since the questions around the nature of consciousness were first raised, there’s still a long way to go in figuring out just what makes the brain tick so to speak.
Quantum mechanics, however, is good at explaining these kinds of things that don’t operate along the regular laws of physics. It’s hard to explain exactly how quantum mechanics work also, but we do know a bit more about them than we know about the brain.
Essentially, if you break things down to a small enough level, they begin to respond differently. Some of the laws and theories that would have dictated their behavior previously begin to behave more loosely.
Take a toothpick for example. You can move it around or drop it or throw it and it follows the same laws of physics. And if you snapped it in half, those halves would also follow the same rules. However, if you kept doing this until you reached a certain tiny, microscopic level, things would get weird.
But just saying that the brain might work on quantum mechanics doesn’t actually explain much. After all, that statement says nothing about what these mechanics may actually do, and more importantly, what that means for us.
Fortunately, though, more detailed theories on the subject do exist. It’s been said that quantum mechanics could explain these different quantum laws working with our brain to create consciousness from a “fourth dimension” around us.
Quantum laws may also dictate that particles behave differently depending on if they’re being observed or not. Of course, the definitions are complex. Observation is a general term that doesn’t literally mean looking at something in the context that the word would come up in a regular conversation.
But at least in theory, it’s possible that much of how we experience the world has to do with our brain observing and interacting with particles around us at the quantum level. These observations may be a basic building block behind everything—a source code, so to speak, for the universe at large.
Universal consciousness remains a theory
Universal consciousness might be the oldest theory on this list. It predates the more modern ideas mentioned with quantum mechanics and the simulation theory, but there’s enough anecdotal evidence surrounding the subject to at least consider it.
It’s not complicated such as quantum mechanics.
On the other hand, it’s probably the easiest theory to understand between the three. It’s the idea that essentially we come from the same place, or that consciousness itself is an extension of the universe.
This belief has been seen in religions from differing times and places, with Buddhism notably claiming that consciousness is around us everywhere. It’s not just Buddhism that has reflected these ideas, however.
There’s many anecdotal stories over the years of people who have been close to death or have medically died and believed that during these experiences, they’ve become one with the universe or something else along those lines.
Of course, these stories won’t hold up in the opinion of the scientific community and it’s obviously hard to study this kind of phenomenon in a meaningful way.
But to consider a subject like consciousness, something that we don’t understand, entirely using the same scientific methods used for other things may be a mistake.
After all, the concept of the universal mind has been around since at least 480 B.C., when it was introduced by Anaxagoras, a philosopher from before the time of Socrates. While this much time passed doesn’t necessarily mean the theory is true, a lot of people have put their belief behind it between that time period and now.
Optimism about the future
Earlier in this article, we mentioned Elon Musk’s belief that humanity is living in a simulation. It’s not the only time Musk has spoken about things that would be considered outlandish by a lot of people.
He’s spoken of other things that might as well sound like something out of a science fiction novel, such as the threat of artificial intelligence.
When Musk did speak about AI, however, he had a notable quote that didn’t have to do directly with that specific subject matter at all. Rather, it was a general outlook on philosophy and life.
“You kind of have to be optimistic about the future. There’s no point in being pessimistic,” Musk said. “I’d rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.”
It’s philosophical advice worth keeping in mind.
The fact of the matter is, we don’t have the answers. There’s various places to draw the answers from, whether it’s conventional theories or these newer modern ones about simulations and quantum physics, or even religions which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.
Whatever you do believe about the mind, or even if you don’t believe anything at all and you’re just waiting to see what answers scientists come up with in the future, keep your head up.
When the answers aren’t around yet and all of them could be wrong, you can only keep a positive outlook on things and hold a hope that your preferred theory is one with truth behind it.