Before you entered this world, your parents heard the beating of your heart through an ultrasound. When you were a kid you were given vaccines that saved your life after a street Monkey in India scratched you. You remember getting rushed to the emergency room as a teenager countless times to get X-rays for broken bones. As a young adult living in the digital age, I see my Dad monitoring his blood sugar levels and daily steps with an iPhone. Medical technology has allowed us to receive insightful data that encourages health and well-being, but what’s happening on the other end of our data?
Digital phenotyping is becoming a popular method to assess an individual’s physical and emotional wellbeing. This method requires your data generated by your smartphone activity and wearable technology, such as social networking, heart rate variability, location, typing speed, screen time, and even your Amazon purchases. Using machine-learning algorithms, this personal data is analysed. We are then given a personalized diagnostics on how we can reach an optimal biomarker for health. Digital marketers cultivate personalised advertising of new pharmaceuticals and medical devices that help us achieve our emotional and physical well-being.
As our data becomes a commodity for the “big tech” companies, they may know us better then we know ourselves via data analytics and machine learning. This presents a direct privacy conundrum and displays the paradox of technology. Do we allow “big tech” companies access to our data and become the prey to digital marketers? Or do we restrict data and possibly forgo the next steps for medical technology and the next phase of human evolution?