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Category Archives: Health Care

HBR – Uninformed Consent

Harvard Business Review – Companies want access to more and more of your personal data — from where you are to what’s in your DNA. Can they unlock its value without triggering a privacy backlash?

Leslie K. John – Marvin Bower associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School: “…Technology has advanced far beyond the browser cookies and retargeting that allow ads to follow us around the internet. Smartphones now track our physical location and proximity to other people — and, as researchers recently discovered, can even do so when we turn off location services. We can disable the tracking on our web browsers, but our digital fingerprints can still be connected across devices, enabling our identities to be sleuthed out. Home assistants like Alexa listen to our conversations and, when activated, record what we’re saying. A growing range of everyday things — from Barbie dolls to medical devices — connect to the internet and transmit information about our movements, our behavior, our preferences, and even our health. A dominant web business model today is to amass as much data on individuals as possible and then use it or sell it — to target or persuade, reward or penalize. The internet has become a surveillance economy. What’s more, the rise of data science has made the information collected much more powerful, allowing companies to build remarkably detailed profiles of individuals. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can make eerily accurate predictions about people using seemingly random data. Companies can use data analysis to deduce someone’s political affiliation or sexuality or even who has had a one-night stand. As new technologies such as facial recognition software and home DNA testing are added to the tool kit, the surveillance done by businesses may soon surpass that of the 20th century’s most invasive security states.

The obvious question is, How could consumers let this happen? As a behavioral scientist, I study how people sometimes act against their own interests. One issue is that “informed consent” — the principle companies use as permission to operate in this economy — is something of a charade. Most consumers are either unaware of the personal information they share online or, quite understandably, unable to determine the cost of sharing it — if not both…”

The 2019 Medicare & You Handbook is now available

Your online connection to the “Medicare & You” handbook. Several formats are available: PDF, Large Print PDF, eBook, Audio, Braille, Paper handbook. [h/t Pete Weiss] Continue Reading

John Hancock will include fitness tracking in all life insurance policies

Insurance Journal: “John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones, the company said on Wednesday. The move by the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp., marks… Continue Reading

US Census Bureau International Data Base

“The International Data Base (IDB) was developed by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide access to accurate and timely demographic measures for populations around the world. The database includes a comprehensive set of indicators, as produced by the U.S. Census Bureau since the 1960s. Through sponsorship from various U.S. Government agencies, the IDB is updated… Continue Reading

What Consumers Should Know About Commercial DNA Testing

WSJ (paywall) – For starters, find out what happens to the sample you submit – “Less costly genetic testing has let millions of people unlock the information in their DNA. Yet there’s a lot about these tests they don’t know—but should…” Continue Reading

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2017

“The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that real median household income increased by 1.8 percent between 2016 and 2017, while the official poverty rate decreased 0.4 percentage points. At the same time, the number of people without health insurance coverage and the uninsured rate were not statistically different from 2016. Median household income in the… Continue Reading

Walking Might Be the Best Exercise There Is

Walking alone, walking with a friend, companion animal(s), parent, child, colleague, grandparent..just walk, and enjoy better health! Via Outside – Here’s the secret to a long life: keep moving “It’s easy to get excited about the latest and greatest trends, from high-intensity interval training to ultramarathons to triathlons to powerlifting. But at the end of… Continue Reading

EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Towers Collapse a Documentary Basis for Litigation

Comments on the EPA Office of Inspector General’s 1/27/03 interim report titled: “EPA’s Response to the World Trade Center Towers Collapse” A DOCUMENTARY BASIS FOR LITIGATION July 4, 2003. Prepared by Cate Jenkins, Ph.D. Environmental Scientist, Waste Identification Branch. Hazardous Waste Identification Division. Mail Code 5304W. Office of Solid Waste. Office of Solid Waste and… Continue Reading

What It Actually Costs to Live in America’s Most Expensive Cities

“With unemployment at over a decade low, wages at all-time highs, and poverty on the decline, the U.S. economy is flourishing — or so it would seem. For Americans struggling financially it can be difficult to feel encouraged by such optimistic reports. It is a common complaint among ordinary Americans and economists alike: economic measures… Continue Reading

Who controls your data?

Engadget – We requested our personal information from dozens of companies. Here’s what they gave us — and what they didn’t: “The average American, one study tell us, touches their phone 2,600 times per day. By the end of a given year, that’s nearly a million touches, rising to two million if you’re a power… Continue Reading

Rand – Evolution of the U.S. Overdose Crisis

Understanding China’s Role in the Production and Supply of Synthetic Opioids by Bryce Pardo: Testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations on September 6, 2018. [h/t Mary Whisner] “The introduction of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids to U.S. drug markets presents new challenges for contemporary… Continue Reading

Google publishes new research on digital well being

Google Blog: “As researchers on the Android team, we spend a lot of time out in the world, listening to our users. To do our best work, we leave our passions behind. Objectivity is key. But it’s hard not to develop empathy, especially when you start to notice that not everything about people’s experience with… Continue Reading