Posts Tagged ‘United States’


In ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, WARNING on July 31, 2011 at 10:29 pm
An electronic medical record example



IF YOU READ THIS carefully, one finds that Johns Hopkins says this: “More technology, less doctor = less technology more doctor. War is peace and peace is war.  You figure if there is just a tiny little bit of a falsehood contained in the piece below?

Consult with your doctors early and often. That’s not just good advice for patients; it’s what Stephanie Reel, the top IT officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, says healthcare technology leaders must do to master intelligent medicine.

Speaking at this week’s InformationWeek Healthcare IT Leadership Forum in New York, Reel, head of IT at Johns Hopkins Medicine since 1994 and Chief Information Officer at the University since 1999, said the institution’s success in technology innovation is directly attributable to its habit of involving clinicians in IT projects. That point was backed up by Dr. Peter Greene, Johns Hopkins’ Chief Medical Information Office, who joined a panel discussion I led exploring “What’s Next In Intelligent Medicine.”

Data-driven decision-making helps develop a competitive edge.

Learn how to use real-time analytics to make educated business decisions.

There have been plenty of innovations at Johns Hopkins Medicine, a $5 billion-a-year organization that includes a renowned medical school, five hospitals, a network of physician offices, and massive research operations. The institution was among the pioneers of electronic health records (EHRs) through a clinical information system deployed in the early 1990s. The effort succeeded, Reel says, because it was initially supported by half a dozen clinicians who worked with IT to develop the system.

This interdisciplinary group has since grown to include about 75 people, and it still meets every month to “listen to the people on the front lines who are trying to make a difference,” Reel said.

Johns Hopkins’ clinical information system has evolved to embrace the latest EHR technologies, and it has also become the foundation for what Johns Hopkins calls “smart order sets.” These order sets have built-in checks, balances, and analytics to ensure that appropriate procedures, tests, and protocols are followed as appropriate for each patient.

Among the hundreds of smart order sets now in use at Johns Hopkins, one guides decision on appropriate regimens for diabetics. Hundreds of variables and possible recommendations are preprogrammed into the order set, but the right regimen is determined though the combination of known patient history, up-to-the-moment clinical measures, and feedback provided by doctors on a series of questions conditionally asked by the system based on known patient data and the clinician’s answers to key questions.

Smart order sets are developed by specialists and extensively studied by peer-review groups before they are embedded into patient care workflows. “The challenge is that you have to do a lot of custom work that isn’t included in off-the-shelf EHR products, so you can’t take on everything,” said Greene.

Johns Hopkins has prioritized based on risk, developing smart order sets for high-morbidity scenarios such as diabetic management and anticoagulation management.

For example, the institution has been widely recognized for its work on preventing venus thromboembolism (VTE), a dangerous blood-clotting condition that has been decreased by embedding intelligent risk-factor algorithms into admissions, post-operative, and patient-transfer order sets.

The approach has raised VTE assessment rates significantly, and VTE incidents have dropped significantly among at-risk patients, which is a huge achievement when lives are at stake.

One big risk to all this work is alert fatigue — the common problem whereby so-called intelligent systems and devices fire off so many alerts they are simply ignored. To minimize this, Johns Hopkins has built role-based and history-driven rules into many of its smart order sets.

Cardiologists, for example, would be assumed to be aware of the dangers of ordering both Cumadin and Ameoderone for the same patient whereas an intern would be shown an alert. But if an intern had already cleared such an alert for a particular patient on a particular day, the system recognizes that history and won’t alert that intern again that day regarding that patient.

At the cutting edge of intelligent medicine is personalized care. Smart order sets are part of Johns Hopkins’ strategy on that front, and the institution also has at least half a dozen departments working on other forms of personalized care.

The Department of Oncology, for instance, is exploring the use of genomics — study of the DNA of individual patients and of cancer cells. Even today, the presence of specific genetic biomarkers can trigger patient-specific recommendations about using, or not using, certain drugs, tests and protocols.

In the future, the DNA of both the patient and his or her cancer will be “readily available and integrated into every decision we’re making about your care,” Greene said, though he acknowledged that might be years from now.

Given that there are 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, the most advanced work will involve big-data computing. Oncology researchers at Johns Hopkins are collaborating with the university’s Department of Astronomy, which has a data center with rack upon rack of graphical processing units (GPUs, not CPUs) that are routinely applied to large-scale computational astronomy calculations.

Reel and Greene encouraged their peers to push the use of predictive analytics and use of data on the clinical side of their operations. Electronic health records and intelligent medicine aren’t where they should be, Reel said, in part because the financial incentives have favored administrative uses of the technology — reducing cost rather than improving diagnostics and clinical care.

“We talk often about productivity gains in medicine because of the introduction of technology, and systems tend to reward quantity rather than quality,” she said.

The next step in intelligent IT support for medicine, she said, would be to work with clinicians to minimize time-wasting usability, interoperability, and security hurdles so they can spend less time interacting with technology while still getting ever-smarter decision support. That, she said, will give doctors more time with their patients.

Florida Driver’s Information Sold

In ARTICLES AND NEWS STORIES, RELATED ARTICLES, Uncategorized, WARNING on July 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm
Topographic map of the State of Florida, USA (...

Image via Wikipedia

When you go for your driver’s license at the DMV the last thing you think about is your personal information being sold.

According to a report released by the State of Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made about $62-million dollars.

They made that money by selling personal information of Florida drivers to companies like Lexis-Nexis and Choice Point, which conducts background checks. Information gathered include your full name, address and driving history.

We went out to speak with people in the Panama City area to see what they thought about their personal information being sold. Many didn’t even know their personal information was at the mercy of the state.

Christina Van-Dyk, “I didn’t know that and didn’t like the idea because I really don’t want other people knowing my information.”

Robin Hicks, “I don’t think it’s right, I think they should disclose if that’s the situation. You have to fill out forms and sign everything to get your driver’s license and that should be something that should be disclosed at that time.”

Although selling personal information is legal, the law says companies are not allowed to use that information to create new business. State officials insist they do not sell social security numbers to these companies.

via Florida Driver’s Information Sold.


In CONVERSATIONS on July 11, 2011 at 12:13 am
Logo of the anti-RFID campaign by German priva...

Image via Wikipedia

The challenge for banks these days is to know which customers are the most important as they walk in the branch. Today we don’t know who you are until you identify yourself — and if you’ve been standing in a line for 20 minutes waiting to speak to someone, you may not be in the mood to engage in a conversation that is about deepening your relationship with the bank.  (Banking on the future, P 21)

In Conversation #4 above, we ended with the above  paragraph, quoted from Banking on the Future.  So exactly how do these banks plan to “know you without interpersonal human contact of any kind?”

The answer is, through radio-frequency identification(RFID).  RFID  is a technology that uses communication through the use of radio waves to transfer data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object for the purpose of identification and tracking. Take note, that not even Geekdom really had any idea of the existence of this radar-like technology and its anti-privacy uses until word got out about its role in Social media, yes, as it came to light in 2010 with the annual Facebook Conference.

So it’s no surprise then to see that on the forefront of RFID Technology, we find the banks. As Brett King puts it:” Another innovative tool banks are using to engage affluent customers is radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

HSBC started recently with a RFID trial in which the cards issued to their affluent clients were implanted with tiny computer chips and radio antennas to capture private information about these clients, their relationship status, their contact information and their physical location, and to store it.

The dangers of RFID are legion. In the first place this technology differs markedly from all previous systems, systems like bar code scanners and others. A bar code scanner can only scan one item (bar code) at a time, and only if this bar code is held at a right angle in close proximity to a scanner.

As a matter of fact, RFID tags (labels) are heard by interrogators (also known as readers), and not seen. The advantage of this, is that one interrogator can listen in on hundreds and hundreds of tags at one time, and the tags can be “heard” irrespective whether they are hidden, boxed, packed or stored. No tag can hide from the “ears” of the interrogators.

Also, the interrogator can “listen” in on tags that’s completely out of its line of sight. Because it is more accurate to say that it listens, it can listen to a tag that is out of sight.

The opportunity for serious clandestine listening, for surveillance of the most dangerous kind, is created everywhere, and its easy to use technology. The carrier of the tag, does not have any way of knowing (a) whether it has been tagged, or (b) who is interrogating its tag. You might, in a future world, be tagged – even at MacDonald’s by ingesting a milkshake. And this tag might be listened to, interrogated, by hundreds of “ears” listening to your behaviour. Privacy has just become not only impossible, but an immediate thing of the past.

And, then there is HSBC and Brett King and the banking criminals, who say: TRUST US. We will not abuse this TECHNOLOGY. EVER. We will be good boys. Banks are the pillars of society!”

When a tagged individual enters a HSBC Branch, RFID Interrogators will immediately hear him and identify him as a priority client. Besides making one ill because of its basic un-American dishonesty and its heartless discrimination where those who matter less are mercilessly swept aside, shoved aside so that the important ones can skip the line, it is fairly creepy too.

However, as the banks view this, such RFID communication will dispense with the needless waste of time spent in the most wasteful practises of human interaction. Things like greetings, identification of the clients needs become obsolete, and according to the intelligent networks the banks employ, they believe they will be able to predict what you want from them without asking you. They will know before you do. They will automate you as an individual into a part of the machine. Indeed, these people will technically be speaking the “machine’s language.”

Take note, the focus of the banks are to (a) tag you, (b) to interrogate your tags as frequently and as completely as possible, and (c) to use this information in an endeavour to increased ability to recognize valuable clients. In other words, to surf the RFID for clients, to ensnare only individuals with the required set of pre-programmed functions, and to blatantly ignore everyone else to the extent that not even a nod will be required.

It is also expected that our banks will employ these tags to the advantage of the chosen ones at point of sale interaction. When you shop, your tags will be interrogated and RFID communication will be rabid whilst you may be silently browsing the bookstore. But as soon as you get to the point of sale, your tags – and the subsequent baggage you carry, will most likely inform the retailer, and make it possible for him to maximise his income from you based on this “inside” information he has.

What is more, these tags can have a life as long and “viral” as the “inseminator” wants it to be. Three types of tags are manufactured. Tags can be without battery power, passive. Another type, running on battery power, always transmits wherever it is, irrespective who might be “listening”. And a third type, carrying auxiliary battery power, that will only be activated once it gets close to a RFID interrogator. Passive tags sell for as little as 5 cents each, whilst highly specialised intelli-tags that can withstand gamma radiation, and can intelligently monitor assets or environmental conditions, sell for between $3.00 and $100.00 each.



Fixed RFID readers are stationary and set up in specific zones that can be fairly tightly controlled. Thanks to manufacturers like Motorola, Intermec and Impinj, Sirit and many others, handheld portable readers, in the industry called mobile readers, are available everywhere. These include handhelds, carts and, from the sound of it, something straight from horror movies, vehicle mounted RFID’s as well.

No broad controls exist to prevent the use of RFID against the people. Many groups fight and struggle for and claim to be in control. They are: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), ASTM International, The DASH7 Alliance and EPCglobal. The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) has set a standard for tracking IT Assets with RFID, The Computer Technology Industry Association CompTIA has set a standard for certifying RFID engineers; The International Airlines Transport Association IATA set tagging guidelines for luggage in airports.

It’s important not to under-estimate the power of this technology. In practise, it’s so powerful that a supermarket containing millions and millions of items, can do an immediate stock take of its entire store every time the till rings up one item. It can do this over and over again, millions of times a day, calculating and re-calculating stock, sales, and all kinds of black box functions, today. The technology is there, and it’s already being used. Look at Facebook. Look  around you. You are being tagged. You are being interrogated. You are being recorded.


In CONVERSATIONS, Uncategorized on July 8, 2011 at 8:59 am
Reaction to Irish banking and financial crises...

Image via Wikipedia

As a matter of course, as the Great Banking Corporations continue to grow larger and larger, both as a result of endless acquisitions and mergers and as a result of the phenomenal rise in computing power and the complete collapse of the costs of data storage, their appetite for revenue becomes more and more frenzied, their management, especially the bean counters become more and more alienated from the real world environment of banking & clients towards an abstract world hitherto only imagined in fiction, a world where the only means of viewing the vast banking operation is through the matrix: through vast networks of income streams and cost analysis, a world where customers do not exist and are never mentioned. In fact, it’s a world where the memory, the understanding that money is brought to the matrix by people called clients, is almost completely forgotten. Income is no longer seen as payment by people for services rather than as something spinned of from revenue streams divided by newer platforms realising anticipatory needs from affluent adopters. In such an abstract world, it’s quite understandable that world banking has had several very weird almost Harry Pottersized  disasters in the recent past.

And its all because of the rise of the machine. Unrivalled computing power makes it possible for inter-continental investment banks to run many variations of their day-to-day operation in a black cloud, testing and experimenting to see which one yields the best results at the day’s end. And the one that supply the most milk by end of day, is the cow of the day – and the fools we as the public are, we are easily parted from our money.
The second factor, is the predictive abilities, and the cybernetic systems, which is not as much predictors of the client’s needs and wants, as espionage facilities that can use systemic discrimination against certain behavioural and statistical tendencies amongst individuals, and that can use number crunching to outline (and yes, red line under black box conditions) groups of people who are treated vastly different from one another, as to maximise the per capita income derived from clients in the “neural system”.
Hence, as the record shows, women paid much more for cars as men, and several finance companies made huge fortunes on the back of the fact that their neural networks predicted that most females has no natural sense of automotive value and were mostly dependant on the advice offered by the sales representative. Due to the control gained by the standardised platform dashboard, the salesmen were dependent on the “system” to draw quotes for these women after their personal details were fed into the system. The sales representatives did not even have to participate in this game of control system deceit and had no knowledge that their wives and girlfriends were paying vastly more than their male counterparts, because the neural network predicted it.
To get back to careful analyses of what Brett King is saying in this context, one has to pursue the following:

“High-net-worth investors are amongst the earliest adopters of technology; they are the most demanding in respect to service; and they are responsible for the highest profit of any customer group within the retail bank.” (BANKING ON THE FUTURE, P.19)
In “Old-speak” this means that the bank will maximise its profits if it engages something like the 80-20 principle. First, they need methods to seek out the rich – HNWI in Newspeak, and this has to be done quickly, immediately and on site, seeing that no personal relationships are any longer tolerated by the bank between employees and the customers, and hence, no one that walks into a bank knows or is known on any personal level, by anyone there. Banking has become the unknown engaging the rotation. This helps the bank because it prevents their personnel becoming bogged down by the unethical and downright immorality of a great many standard banking practises.Hence, they need to identify the HNWI as they enter the branch, because this is no longer a service centre. It has now become the palace of hard sales. Identify the wealthy, and sell, sell, sell.
Increasingly HNWI’s are highly mobile, are time-poor, and require their bank to be able to respond in real-time to their needs. It sounds very much like they need a much more integrated, connected banking experience today where the bank really is about anticipating their needs before they happen. (BANKING ON THE FUTURE, P19)
If we cut to the chase, the bankers are actually saying the following: we need to land this sucker within 10 minutes after he walks into the bank. We need to figure out who the hell he is, what he’s got, and what he wants, or at least, what we want him to want, and then we need to manipulate the environment to such an extent that he is forced through the lines of have-nots, such as not to infuriate him to the degree that he no longer wants to buy all the products we can create because he had to wait so long or was so uncomfortable.

If you imagine a McDonald’s outlet with the capability to measure your weight as you enter, then calculate the statistical probability – – what someone with that bodyweight dressed in the manner you are, will eat, and then peeping into your wallet to see what denomination notes and change is available, before you get to the counter to order. And then based on this information, the menus are quickly changed, digitally, to cater specifically for the sale they plan to make with you: and they offer you a meal, in line with your statistics, that cost exactly as much as the largest banknote in your purse. Sorry, no change is available for a smaller meal. This if you start getting hot under the collar, is an indication of the banking ideal.
The challenge for banks these days is to know which customers are the most important as they walk in the branch. Today we don’t know who you are until you identify yourself — and if you’ve been standing in a line for 20 minutes waiting to speak to someone, you may not be in the mood to engage in a conversation that is about deepening your relationship with the bank.
(Banking on the future, P 21)

And this is of course, why they are now employing these intrusive mental robotics, the neural networks, that follow you, wherever you go, making small notes, writing it all down, and adding it all to the identity they are building you, and which identity will become your prison later on.

To be continued in Conversations 5


In CONVERSATIONS on July 8, 2011 at 7:46 am
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation ...

Image via Wikipedia


HSBC is investing big-time in this capability as part of their One-HSBC initiative. This initiative is by far the largest single initiative with the most significant chunk of HSBC’s annual $6 billion global IT budget dedicated to this platform. (Banking on the Future, LORD OF)
Six Billion Dollars is a vast sum of money to spend on computer management systems. It is spent with the aim, amongst other things, first to globalize banking by standardising, as Brett King puts it, HSBC’s view of the customer relationship. These funds are part of the cost of moving technology away from transactional banking towards a more customer-focused operation.
Exactly what does this mean?
It means that banks like HSBC and NAB are spending vast fortunes of cash in order to change their businesses from transaction banking (where the bank makes its money primarily from transacting with the client when normal bank services are rendered) towards a more “customer-focused approach” (where the bank is re-focused from a financial service operation into a world where anything the customer needs becomes banking, and hence revenue stream. )
One example, which was in the news recently here in the USA, is the participation of the retail banks in hoarding and selling the private banking data of their clients to Data Mining Companies who in turn sell it to the highest bidder in the open market. Hence, your profile, updated with your specific spending habits, (ie. your record of buying a large old homestead) is sold to building suppliers who then target you as a future consumer of building supplies. This is, as are many other strange services, future banking from a customer-focused point of view.
In effect, HSBC, for one, is spending $ 6 Billion in order to turn the lens around, away from the inner working of the bank, the efficient operation of statements and payments, money supply and internal stability, towards the customer. And with this eye turned to the customers, in effect, they become the “stock” of the bank, the resource of the bank, which resource can be mined (data) and manipulated by the bank for unsurpassed profits.

Beware of the machine!


In OUR MISSION on July 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

There are more than 450 million English language blogs in the world today. If we include  Mandarin Chinese, there might be more than 1 billion blogs.  Granted most of these are not very active, and a great many have been abandoned, even then we are still left with so many blogs, that it’s almost insane to start a new one Most likely, no one will ever read you.

People generally start blogs in order to  be heard, but more often than not, being heard becomes such an obsession that the message is completely forgotten. Many blogs start out with the aim to communicate very specific information and end up in a race to generate visits,   even if they have to change their message to succeed.   Hence the world of repeaters out there. It is an open question how many blogs exist that do not simply republish existing stories “to their friends”.

This blog, will have to be very different from the mainstream if it is to succeed in being read  instead of being visited by  Google spiders and cyber hoppers. First off all, we do have a very serious message to convey. We believe our message is more important than the   possible financial rewards that compel some bloggers to  chase ad-counts instead of readers.

Secondly, in honour of Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for writing fiction, we will try to respect our readers by using their time  ” in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”   We aim to be to the point, well researched, innovative in our interpretation, and mind numbing in our predictions.

Thirdly, we need to voice a real danger that is as yet still completely ignored by the media.   We face real and present danger in America, and the rest of the Western World and we need to get the conversation started quickly as  the   age of unlimited computing power starts to dawn on us, and threatens to destroy any fabric of freedom we still have left.  What we have to say is extremely important.

Furthermore, our blog will deal with multiple fields. We will endeavour to show the ramifications of unfettered computing power and “black box” programming,  the dangers of Connectionism, (which is a set of approaches in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience and philosophy of mind, that models mental or behavioral phenomena as the emergent processes of interconnected networks of simple units). There are many forms of Connectionism, but the most common forms use neural network models.

This is the age of robots, but not robots of the physical world – robots of the mental world. From climate change to the collapse of the mortgage market, from your medical aid to your private bank account, everything is already infested with these artificial robots of the mind, devouring all the information available about you, and churning out predictions about your behaviour and your allocated future to willing corporate buyers. As we speak, your behaviour is leaving a cyber footprint, and as we speak you are being followed by little cyber spiders that are predicting, and thereby limiting your future as a choice between alternatives offered to you by the consumers that buy the predictions about you from these little robots. In a certain sense, we are already doomed, but there is still time to stop this madness, to stop the fallacy of mathematical modelling coupled by neural networks and data mining.

Are you interested, then keep reading. We will use this space to cultivate our own, and our readers understanding of this world just under the surface , just behind the scenes, that is the cause of the mayhem, but is never rewarded with the responsibility for its consequences.