Recently I grew frustrated with what I know is antiquated technology being used day to day in my every-day-life. I had to fill out forms on paper (gasp) in triplicate at the doctor’s office – information that is the same information asked for over and over again in the same office. Then I was told that I would need to purchase MY PERSONAL MEDICAL RECORDS from one doctor to give to another doctor. How is it I do not own my own medical records? Why are they not accessible via a finger print scan in my medical network or at best accessed by my health insurance number by any doctor with my permission?
Then for a trip outside the country I needed to get US dollars and not only could I not get that out of an ATM even though I have a US account I had to go into a brick and mortar bank between the hours of 9-5 (the horrors). Why have we yet to embrace a decentralized global token economy accessible by the digital wallet on my phone?
And do you know who’s making money off of my browser history, social media behavior, purchasing behavior etc? Not me.
Being in the startup, blockchain/crypto space I am surrounded by incredible innovative thinkers, entrepreneurs and disruptive technologies; innovations that significantly change the way a current industry operates, completely replaces a current technology or one that creates a whole new industry. Much of what we embrace today was once a disruptive innovation – the automobile, refrigeration, the telephone, the television, the computer to email, digital photography, the smart phone, etc.
I know what’s coming
We are living in the Information Age. It’s only been a little over 80 years since the first modern computer was built, and just 30 years after that breakthrough, we put a man on the moon. Fifty years later, the smartphone in your pocket has more speed and computing power than all of NASA’s Apollo computers combined. Can you imagine how much more advanced our technology will be 50 years from now? Or even 30? A glimpse into tomorrow yields some fascinating possibilities for those who know where to look.
Health care startup Babylon Health claims its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot was able to diagnose medical conditions as accurately as a doctor. AI-powered robot Xiaoyi in China recently took the national medical licensing examination and passed, making it the first robot to have done so.
Initial diagnostics could eventually be done accurately at home, perhaps using devices as unobtrusive as a Fitbit. Referrals to an actual doctor would be on an as-needed basis, and both you and your doctor would have access to all of the data from the moment it’s recorded. Any prescriptions you need would be securely transmitted, cutting back on fraud and helping to keep prices low. And most importantly, you’d always have access to your own medical records if you need them.
There are already AI-enabled blood tests in development to speed up lab processing, and an encouraging study out of China found that an AI model was more accurate at diagnosing childhood diseases than paediatricians within the study.
On top of that, there is also ongoing research into the use of blockchain technology for patient records and prescription authorizations. Instead of messy and insecure records transfers, doctors, pharmacists and even the patients themselves could have easy access to all of the pertinent data in a way that would restrict access to everyone else and prevent attempts at fraud.
It is no secret that we have yet to solve the problem of healthcare interoperability and blockchain technology can potentially help solve this issue and also give patients control over personal records.
While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are seen by some as fads, their popularity amongst millennials and those in the know highlights a real need for a secure, global, decentralized financial option. The banking industry knows this; they see the potential that cryptocurrency and blockchain-derived accounting has, but also acknowledge that the technology is as much a competitor to the financial industry as it is a useful tool.
Some companies can see the future, however, and are already trying to break banking out of the traditional banking model. A major push by Capital One, for instance, touts its desire to make banking more accessible by moving more toward decentralized “cafes” and internet-based banking. If this initiative proves successful, more banks will look toward finding decentralized banking solutions… some of which may rely on blockchain technology.
We’ve already seen examples of autonomous cars, including the Tesla Autopilot feature and Google’s self-driving smart cars. It’s impressive technology, but it’s one that people are slow to adopt so far. Smart cars of the future will be miles ahead of those that we see in tests today. Instead of using some semi-autonomous features and sensors combined with significant user input, these vehicles will use technologies like NovAtel’s upcoming high-precision Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to unlock the true potential of autonomous systems. This would give the vehicle its precise location within inches, allowing it to react in real-time to traffic conditions and upcoming hazards faster than current vehicles do with machine vision. They could even map your route in real time based on a voice-recognized destination and handle all navigation duties with no further input.
The Emergence of Smart Contracts
One of the big challenges currently plaguing blockchain tech is that it’s often associated with just a single spectacular product: Cryptocurrency. Oddly enough, it’s the real estate market that could change this perception. There has been a lot of talk in recent years of the possibility of blockchain-based “smart contracts” or self-executing contracts for real estate transactions, and it’s a concept that recently stopped being just ‘talk’. Blockchain property transaction platform Blockkimo Ltd just completed “the first” real estate transaction on a blockchain in Switzerland. The development was announced by Blockimmo on Mar. 1, 2019. Blockimmo, Elea Labs Ltd. and digital assets service firm Swiss Crypto Tokens Ltd. conducted the blockchain-based real estate transaction — consisting of 18 apartments and a restaurant — at a cost of 3 million Swiss francs ($2.98 million).
Smart contracts could cut out a lot of the time and cost of processing real estate transactions by creating an immutable transaction register that would eliminate the intermediaries that real estate usually requires.
AI and the Internet of Things
In the past few years we’ve seen a lot of “smart” consumer connected devices hit the market, including everything from cars, tv’s, wearables, appliances to smart cities technologies. In the broadest sense, the term IoT covers everything connected to the internet. This market is just taking off and there are some issues to work out in regards to security, learning curve and interoperability but these devices will only continue to improve.
Future AIs will allow for much greater interaction with smart devices and will allow different devices to work together more intuitively. Devices that weren’t designed to work together will still be able to pair as the AIs compare compatible services and make the necessary connections to ensure functionality. IoT developers may integrate blockchain technology into next-gen devices as well, eliminating security risks that cause some people to balk at smart-device purchases. As the Internet of Things evolves and becomes smarter, the sky is the limit on what we can accomplish.
Owning Your Own Data
Companies make billions of dollars off of selling our data. Imagine a day where not only would you own the digital version of yourself but you control whom you shared it with and could make money in the process. Blockchain technology may provide this solution.
Blockchain technology has been seen as a way of democratizing data and putting ownership back into the hands of users and there are a few startups working on this issue hoping to empower consumers with controlling their data rather than social networks.
In the mean time I will finish my coffee, lament at the ads being served to me online without my permission and without any payment to me and wait for the bank to open at 9 so I can buy foreign currency then off to the doctors to buy my medical records.
Yabba dabba doo!
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