Weekend Thoughts - 5.5.18


Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. The Cambridge Analytica drama is finally over—well, almost... the political consulting firm has shut down all of its offices, but in reality it's just rebranded itself as a new company called Emerdata. The new company's Board of Directors includes the daughters of Robert Mercer, the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, and most of the original company's employees have packed up and moved into the new Emerdata offices already. That was fast! It's not entirely clear what Emerdata is going to be working on, but the company is listed under "data processing, hosting, and related activities." I wouldn't be surprised if Emerdata does something shady and is publicly shamed in the near future, just like what happened with Cambridge Analytica. In other words, even though the original company shut down, it doesn't really solve anything at all.

2. If there's a way to cheat at something, people are usually pretty quick to figure out how to do just that. Well, it turns out that people in China are cheating the system to get discounts on their health insurance by using a "swinging cradle" device to convince health insurance companies that they are getting ten thousand steps per day, even if they're actually sitting around doing nothing. I'm not surprised that this has happened, and I'm interested to see how the health insurance industry will respond to this. The ball is in their court now.

3. Speaking of tracking the state of our health with mobile phones, apps are being developed that attempt to assess your ability to drive. Police officers could use this technology in the future to figure out if someone is fit to operate a motor vehicle, and it would be capable of assessing a wide variety of impairments like whether a person is to drunk or high, too sleepy, or too medicated to drive. In other words, this would be like a universal field sobriety test that runs on mobile phones, taking the police officer's judgment out of the equation. There are already some first-generation apps out there, like Druid and Am I Stoned, that can do this to some extent. It'll be exiting to follow this space and see where it takes us in the near future.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

Image by htomek, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.