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Time will come when Big Data recommends medical treatments

15 Aug 2021 | BY ROHIMAN HAROON, NEW STRAITSTIMES

A speaker once told an economic conference I attended years ago that countries and business entities would not go wrong if they invested in the technology, healthcare and energy sectors in the 21st century.

We nodded in approval because we believed in the speaker due to his background and huge success in turning around a failing company.

As dynamics continue to shift, these three will continue to dominate global economies in this millennia as humans will be much dependent on these fast-growing industries.

You and I will be at a loss without our smartphones and the Internet. Technology will continue to evolve. Maybe in the future, we need only a super nano-sized chip inserted into our cerebrum to make an audio-visual telephone call to our loved ones. Even food industries in this millennia need technology to increase yields.

With the emergence of life-threatening diseases and viruses, people need a smarter healthcare system, assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), to warn us of an illness we're suffering from or an impending pandemic.

In the near future, we may be wearing wristbands that can alert health authorities to a heart attack or viral infection.

Gone will be the days of the use of coal and fossil fuels for power generation. When we switch on our lights, we may be using the combined technology of wind, reusable water and solar energy generated in our own backyard.

Our global future energy generation will be focused on renewable energy created by tidal forces, winds, geothermal and solar energies. These cheap energy sources are gaining greater acceptance as they do less damage to the environment when compared with fossil fuels.

By 2050, research estimates say coal usage will drop to 16 per cent of global power generation (from 41 per cent now) and fossil fuels to 38 per cent (from 66 per cent now).

Coal, oil and gas will represent 74 per cent of primary energy demand, down from 82 per cent now.

As we embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution, we look at how technological advances create opportunities for tech companies. Topping the list of the fastest-growing industries are software companies that design, install and provide post-purchase support for software.

Some examples are operating systems, cybersecurity, gaming, graphic design and customer relationship management. Amid remote work and e-commerce growth, software applications enable companies to connect with employees and customers.

Another example is information services, defined as businesses that supply, search for or publish information, such as web search portals, news syndicates, Internet publishing and broadcasting.

Software and information services companies are different businesses, but they complement each other concerning building AI.

With the advent of AI, software companies develop operating systems while information services work on algorithms and Big Data to "manipulate" humans" needs and wants, if one prefers to see the negative aspect of it.

This is the reason many governments and business entities engage such companies to understand and monitor their people and customers, respectively.

Yuval Noah Harari, in his bestselling book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, said: "The algorithms are watching you right now. They are watching where you go, what you buy, who you meet. Soon they will monitor all your steps, all your breaths, all your heartbeats.

"They are relying on Big Data and machine learning to get to know you better and better. And once these algorithms know you better than you know yourself, they could control and manipulate you, and you won't be able to do much about it."

Although the healthcare sector faces a great challenge in implementing information technology, especially concerning design and innovation costs, there is a greater demand now than ever for convenient, quick and less expensive care.

It may sound illogical to imagine a "less expensive healthcare system" in the future with high investment in technology. But experts say this is possible as we are at the confluence of two immense revolutions — biotechnology and information technology — which will make medical treatment more affordable in the longer run.

By then, crucial medical decisions will no longer rely on the informed predictions of doctors but instead the calculations of Big Data algorithms that give out biometric data on our ailments and even recommend appropriate treatments.

ARTICLE BY NEW STRAITSTIMES

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