Category Archives: Medical

Turning The World….

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I read a quote on Ello the other day that one of the writers I follow posted. I’m not sure if it was one of her own or from another source, but I found myself wondering about it a great deal.

“Many people, especially in technology say their productivity is changing the world, and this is irrefutable. But no one seems to know what they’re changing it into.”

Many commenters posted their thoughts, and much of it was about technology it’s self. I couldn’t understand that. Technology it’s self doesn’t have fully functioning rational consciousness…yet. So why is so much being said about technology when there are minds behind it? I decided to put my two cents in and commented:

This is precisely the point I had been trying to make in my computer ethics blog in college, and why I personally believe in the “design for good” movement. I think the use of technology and how to cause change in the world stems from the individual user and their choice, not necessarily the creator of said technology. Though I think the creator is the one who gets the ball rolling, it is the users who manipulate the technology’s usefulness and influence one another. Though, that is more or less dependent on the situation. Without context I get the implication that the quote speaks more on the unpredictability of the technology user to change the world and not necessarily the technology it’s self.

I think when it comes to technology we are too willing to blame situations on the device. Too often I hear parents ridicule their children about phone and computer use, but in the context of the technology. “I should get rid of that damn computer…” Kind of commentary is often times too common, but what it does is dissociates the user from the responsibility. It is not the computers fault that the individual spends so much time on it. It is the choice of the user to spend time on it, and in this particular case, it was someone’s failure to set appropriate boundaries for such use. Weather it be the parent or the child is another story entirely.

To take away the computer is far too extreme. It is useful. It is necessary as well. Technology use causes the world to turn. Most of our educational and work environments require the use of a computer for nearly everything now. Perhaps another case of people’s failure to set boundaries? Feel free to put your thoughts on that in comments below.

I must put a disclaimer as well. There are some technologies that are changing the world for very specific reasons. The above commentary I made speaks more on programs, games, social networks, internet use, apps etc. More socially oriented technology. There are technologies that are made for specific uses, like medical technology, where the goal is to change the medical field for whatever reason, and usually with a passionate cause and predicted out come. In those situations, the use of technology is entirely dependent on the proper functionality if the technology as well as the user, and the outcome is usually predictable because it is being made for a specific goal. That may seem obvious to mention, but I would rather mention it since occasionally, the technology has other outcomes as well that develop into another kind of technology altogether. Much of our popularly used tech was developed from military tech made public once it was found to have a variety of uses.

What are your thoughts on technology development and the quote above? I would love to hear perspectives.


Smartphone Microscopes, Just in Case You’re Still Afraid of Anthrax in Your Mail.

In an attempt to make science more accessible it is now possible to 3D Print a microscope for your smartphone…and if I could afford a smartphone I would totally get a microscope for it. Just saying.

This isn’t a new idea, but it has certainly come a long way from it’s origins…and become much cheaper in the dawn of technological advances. But, don’t take my word for it. Feel free to see it for yourself.


Social Network Suicide Prevention: Is It Enough?

 

When you wake up on a Sunday morning, the last thing you think you’re going to encounter is a suicide threat on one of your social network feeds. I certainly didn’t anyway. Perhaps for some people that’s pretty “normal” (and I use the term very lightly). For me it wasn’t. And of all places it was on Instagram! A little iPod note screen shot talking about having decided on a suicide date. It caught me off guard so much I wasn’t sure what to do. Of course after a few minutes of reflection I decided to look up if there was some way I could report the person was suicidal, and thankfully I found it. Though others were coming to the rescue and commenting on the person’s status, I wasn’t going to try to talk down someone I hardly knew, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them post something that sensitive, without reporting it.

I still wonder if it was the right thing to do or not.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provided me with some great information about what social networks do in situations like this. Unfortunately Instagram was not on that list so it took me a little more time to try to figure out how to do it…which partially is why I’m writing this post. But, what shocked me was how little the social networks actually did in these situations.

Naturally when you send a report to a social network, they have a policy that they are not liable for the person’s actions after initiating contact. What they do is take the information from the report and send a cute little e-mail informing the person that an anonymous user reported them for (fill in the blank) and offer them the contact info of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where the individual could get professional help, which includes both a phone number, and a live chat. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a very sensitive community, with the understanding that a person doesn’t have to be suicidal at all to call. On their site they say:

If you feel you are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline. People have called us for help with substance abuse, economic worries, relationship and family problems, sexual orientation, illness, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and even loneliness.”

Super nice of them. Here is the kicker…

Of course the site Admin also informs the user that the information they’ve posted is a violation of the Terms of Agreement and promotes the issue of (insert issue here section whatever part who cares) and they will have their profile terminated. Instagram and other Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter terminate the account to prevent the escalation of violence. Instagram even has refused to allow certain terms to be searched and in some cases have warnings attached to keywords (click here for more info)

Yeah it’s a bit harsh…and can escalate the personal torment of the individual.

I can’t help but ask myself how I feel about this whole scenario? Is it even worth it to report the issue if it means removing the self expression of the user? Does it even help the person if therapy is offered to the user? Perhaps not.

Knowing all this information I still had to make the decision whether or not I was going to report the user for self harm. And I did. Not because I felt it was right for the profile to be terminated, and not because I was obligated by any moral or social standing…but because I wanted to give the user another option. It is said that the main reason a person will post about suicidal thoughts is because they want either some kind of affirmation that they should go through with it, or they want someone to show they care enough to try to stop them. If they were suicidal and didn’t post anything to a social network or even tell anyone then one can assume that they had their mind already made up, and nothing can really be done for them…a sad assumption, but not an unfounded one. There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide. But even severely depressed people have mixed feelings about death, and most struggle until the very last moment between life and an end to their pain. Most suicidal people don’t want to die…they just want their pain to stop or someone to prove they care. The impulse to end it all, does not last forever.

After my struggle to report the user I posted info on how to do it incase anyone else wanted to try. Another user (one I know personally) pointed out how very little the social media sites actually do and that he felt these threats are the best form of awareness. He isn’t wrong. Seeing a real threat for yourself is definitely a wakeup call. But I feel it is better to offer the options to a hurting individual. If they do contact the Lifeline, law enforcement and intervention can be provided for the individual (because IP addresses are used to locate the nearest help center and ultimately the individual in crisis). I would rather offer them the option than nothing at all.

So are the policies of Social Networks really effective in these cases? That I can’t say for sure. every situation is different. Legally there is very little they can do, and with the masses they have to keep track of it would be unfair to ask them to take any more responsibility on the matter. But what I can say is that it offers a helpful option and removes the individual from potentially being a threat to others and ridicule.

 

Below are a series of helpful and thoughtful videos that touch on several subjects involving and related to depression and suicide (I’m addicted to TedTalks okay? They’re just so informative). 

 

Feel free to leave you comments, questions, or concerns on the matter or videos below.  

 

 


How a 3DS Can Change Perspectives

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 1.35.15 PM“I cried the first time I held a Nintendo 3DS. The experience was a revelation that I’ll not soon forget, and even if everyone stops making games for it tomorrow, my blue 3DS XL is not going anywhere. That little machine is a window into a part of human experience that most people take for granted, but which is otherwise inaccessible to me.

Backing up:

I am mostly stereoblind. Stereoblindness is a blanket term for any condition that prevents a person from perceiving depth using binocular vision. Depending on whom you ask, it affects somewhere between 3 and 15 percent of the world’s population, which creates an interesting demographic hurdle for the 3D television industry. Some people are stereoblind because their vision in one eye is severely impaired, others because their brains are unable to coalesce images from both eyes into a three-dimensional result.”

To read more please visit this link.


Hearing For the First Time

Screenshot taken from KSL.com

Screenshot taken from KSL.com

Medical technology has made leaps and bounds  for people  who suffer from hearing loss. This particular story touched me so much I had to share it with all of you. For many years Dawn Keim had been dealing with sever hearing loss issues causing her to be unable to hear at all. She was offered to be a candidate for a cochlear implant, but the decision to have the surgery was difficult, not because of any complications, but rather because she had grown so accustom to being unable to hear she was afraid of the unfamiliarity. She had never been able to hear her 8-year-old son speak…until now.

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=23984541&nid=1009&title=deaf-woman-hears-8-year-old-son-for-first-time#ooid=FoaWQ1OTolhLg1xrS2pb8QuClSefgKUf

I’mnotcryingI’mnotcryingI’mnotcrying.

Don’t judge me.


Technology and the Elderly: Taking Them Back

Here is the great beginnings of a documentary about the iPod  being used for therapy. By introducing this technology nurses are able to individualized therapy thus lifting a huge burden off the staff. Music has been known to have therapeutic results for many reasons, but if you ever doubted here is a case study that proves it.


The 2011 Cyborg: Advances Today

Recently I got into an argument with a friend about research formulating ways to control computers with your thoughts and brains rather than your fingers. The article about this brain utilizing technology was written in Spetember by the NY Times the article is called The Cyborg In Us All.  People tend not to believe me on this subject, thinking that technology like that is still so far from our grasp. Well, it’s not. Actually much of what we see in scifi is very real, but still in the process of being considered ethically necessary , fixing some of the bugs, or too expensive for the general public. What I thought was strange was that a person can understand the concept of bionic limbs, but not brain operated computers.

Bionic limbs are nothing new to us. We understand that robotic limbs can read our nerve patterns and then replicate movement. The same technology is what causes the iPod touch screen (click link to learn more) to operate at your touch, by reading and sensing electric currents through nerve activity… not heat like many think. Technology that we use almost everyday and they can’t grasp the idea that we can do more with our minds than we can with our hands.

To help us understand the extent of these human adaptations I found this film explaining “cyborg” technology.

Beware some images are graphic surgical procedures.