The 21st century has ushered in a new age where all aspects of our lives are impacted by technology. How will humanity anticipate, mitigate, and manage the consequences of AI, robots, quantum computing and more? How do we ensure tech works for the good of all? This Ashoka series sheds light on the wisdom and ideas of leaders in the field.
Dr. Stephen Friend is a globally acclaimed serial entrepreneur and biomedical researcher. He currently is the President and co-founder of 4YouandMe, a visiting Professor of Connected Medicine at Oxford University and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sage Bionetworks, where he was co-founder and President. He previously held positions at Apple, was Senior Vice President at Merck & Co, founded and led Rosetta Impharmatics, and was an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. He was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2011. Before venturing into medicine and cancer research, he studied anthropology and philosophy.
Konstanze Frischen (Ashoka): Stephen, how can AI help us live healthier?
Stephen Friend: It’s simple: Wearable devices – rings or watches that register heartbeat and all kinds of other physiological data – today can allow individuals to follow themselves. But the potential is bigger: What we are betting on is that we can use AI and machine learning to analyze these data in ways that better track stress and individual symptoms so we can forecast the onset or worsening of chronic diseases like migraines, MS, Crohn’s disease, or even vulnerable times of metamorphosis, like pregnancy or menopause.
KF: And what are you learning?
SF: We are learning how to collect multidimensional, longitudinal data on chronic illnesses – and the results are remarkably strong. An individual’s physiological data – variable heart rate, breathing patterns, skin tone, and much more – yield patterns that correlate with flares of symptoms. And we are setting up studies to test if the more centered a person is in themselves, the lesser the degree of their illness. Conversely, we can see that stress is a breeding ground for symptoms.
KF: So, the data generated by wearables show that our states of mind like stress or wellbeing are underpinned by physiological markers that correspond to diseases?
SF: Yes, this is what we expect to verify. The signals are numerous, and in unison. The body has a way of responding to stress that changes your voice, blood pressure, sleep, what’s going on in your pancreas, your sweat and so on. And the ability to pick these data sets up and stick all of them together, means we can get a pretty good idea of how someone is doing and can start to make individual forecasts for a patient when a disease is likely to start or flare up.
Image Credit: New York Times
News This Week
Researchers at the Nanoscience Center and Faculty of Information Technology in the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, have achieved a significant step forward in predicting atomic structures of hybrid nanoparticles. A research article published in [...]
Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions now available to rent on Kindle
To accommodate students who wish to read the book at an affordable cost, Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions by Frank Boehm (CEO NanoApps Medical Inc.) is available to rent on Kindle. This book benefits [...]
Tools that detect cancer in its early stages can increase patient survival and quality of life. However, cancer screening approaches often call for expensive equipment and trips to the clinic, which may not be [...]
The blood-brain barrier is a physiological boundary layer that works highly selectively and thus protects the brain: On the one hand, pathogens or toxins are effectively prevented from penetrating the brain, on the other [...]
Intro to Industry 4.0: The Ultimate Guide by Ferry Vermeulen Industry is changing a lot these days. New concepts and systems pop-up continuously, and due to companies’ need to implement the best technology, a [...]
“Artificial Intelligence” is currently the hottest buzzword in tech. And with good reason - after decades of research and development, the last few years have seen a number of techniques that have previously been [...]
The 21st century has ushered in a new age where all aspects of our lives are impacted by technology. How will humanity anticipate, mitigate, and manage the consequences of AI, robots, quantum computing and [...]
Babylon, a UK start-up, plans to "put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth" by putting artificial intelligence (AI) tools to work. Currently, the company [...]
If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly, you know that insects react to movement extremely quickly. A newly created biologically inspired compound eye is helping scientists understand how insects use their compound eyes [...]
A tiny bristle worm, wriggling around the ocean, can extend its jaw outside its mouth to ensnare its prey. The worm’s shape-shifting jaw, stiff at the base and flexible at the end, is made [...]
What if you didn’t need surgery to implant a pacemaker on a faulty heart? What if you could control your blood sugar levels without an injection of insulin, or mitigate the onset of a [...]