Friday, 6 February 2015

Will the janitor collect your health data?

A fellow at Cornell has been swabbing subway handrails in New York City.  He's collected evidence of the diseases that ebb and flow in the city.  The data is given out free by tens of thousands of riders daily and collected on a primitive device called a pipe handrail.  He found bubonic plague and 15000 more life forms.

Data collector
This could easily be done by your janitor who daily collects the traces of DNA, disease and medication you leave behind. The issue comes up with pooh too.  Who has the right to sample your waste?   Down in the sewers of the city little gadgets can be installed at sewer junctions.  They can sample down to parts in a billion and phone it in to central health and the RCMP.  If a fugitive flushes, he can be detected.  It comes down to the politics of privacy.  Do you want the health monitors in your own toilet, or on the condo sewer outlet, or at the municipal level down by the sewer lagoon?  All three are likely.
a state employee.

The big ticket item is your own DNA.  Who has the right to know it and clone it?  This one is getting away on us.  I think we'll have to live with our DNA super-duper private recipe becoming widely available to insurers, bosses, nosy neighbours, exes, grandparents and researchers.

I'm for the data collection but sorting out who owns it will be a mess.

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