rDigital News: Health advancements and privacy violations

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Once again this week, we saw health technology’s capability for extending and enhancing all our lives, while being made acutely aware of the vulnerability of our personal information in our digital world.

Here is our weekly roundup of digital news:

3D-printing to repair our health and save lives

A wonderful Mashable feature on the use of 3D printing to build a respiratory sprint for a baby at great risk of death points to the technology as the next great health revolution.

Kaiba Gionfriddo wasn’t even a year old when his windpipe collapsed, making consistent breathing nearly impossible. But through computer modelling, a precisely-designed splint could be printed and installed which will allow his respiratory system to develop properly.

The model of Kaiba Gionfriddo's windpipe that enabled doctors to install a potentially life-saving splint. (Source: University of Michigan Health System)
The model of Kaiba Gionfriddo’s windpipe that enabled doctors to install a potentially life-saving splint. (Source: University of Michigan Health System)

“For adults and children like Kaiba who have no alternatives, Green and Hollister believe 3D printing will soon become the norm for specific treatments matching a patient’s defect,” writes Matt Petronzio.

MaRS developer Peter Adams spoke with rDigitaLife about the possibilities and challenges of creating and implementing modeling technology in his interview “Health IT and Improving Well-Being.”

Drones that save lives, instead of ending them

A German non-profit is trying to turn the negative connotations of drone technology around with the Defikopter, a smartphone-controlled helicopter that carries a defibrillator to people suffering a heart attack.

According to Mashable:

“The American Red Cross reports that “For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10%,” so a drone’s quick response time may make all the difference.”

Defikopter is yet another promising development in health IT (Source: Definetz)
Defikopter is yet another promising development in health IT (Source: Definetz)

 

NSA scandal gets even uglier

Newly-disclosed documents show that the National Security Agency had worked for a decade to build an elaborate system that would allow it to monitor the digital communications of billions of Internet users.

NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The agency pressured software vendors to create backdoor vulnerabilities that would allow it to bypass basic encryption and undermine the standards of basic secure web products, essentially making everyday users more vulnerable to both surveillance and malicious hackers.

The backdoors allow virtually “unbridled access” to digital information. As a cryptographer describes in the New York Times, “this is the Golden Age of spying.”

The more we learn about the American (and British) government’s willingness to trample any notions of its citizens’ privacy, the more disturbing it becomes that your average person rarely thinks about or values their digital security. Cyber crime expert Avner Levin spoke with rDigitaLife about the challenges of building awareness around these issues in an interview that even predates the exposure of the NSA surveillance program.

“There‚Äôs research coming out showing the interest that governments have in having these devices track people even though people are not aware of it,” he told Ramona Pringle, somewhat prophetically.

Yet despite the frightening implications of this level of surveillance, “Nobody wants to pay a dollar to protect their privacy.”

 

 

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