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Poppy Crum: Technologies supporting health

Each of us experiences the world around us subjectively. Each of us perceives and interprets the same stimuli in a completely different way. Our perception is super-individual. On the one hand, it gives us the opportunity to perceive the world in a unique way, on the other – it creates discrepancies, disproportions and limitations. According to Poppy Crum – an expert in technology-based innovation and human evolution – technology can help us to better adjust our brain and at the same time – thanks to its neuroplasticity – “program” it so that we can understand each other better, but… also function better and overcome barriers resulting from diseases or disabilities. Also to predict and diagnose diseases much earlier.

During the Masters & Robots 2021 conference, Poppy Crum stated that people, we are capable of receiving various stimuli from the environment and their unique interpretation, i.e. the one that is appropriate only to us. However, sometimes this interpretation may be strongly distorted due to some of our limitations or dysfunctions. Our brain is very plastic and tries to “compensate” for the shortcomings. If we look at the distorted self-portraits of Francis Bacon, we can consider them a kind of extravagant form of artistic expression, but… maybe we should consider them as the artist’s individual self-perception caused by health problems and an attempt by his brain to overcome them? – Poppy Crum claims.

Designing the development of brain

Today, personalized data allows us to grow and change. The technology that studies the neuroplasticity of our brain will allow us to regenerate faster, see more clearly and think more effectively. We get to know the dynamics of how our brain perceives stimuli from the environment on an ongoing basis, which in statistical terms allows us to better prepare, for example, athletes, but also gives new opportunities to people who “stand out” from the statistical majority.

According to Poppy Crum, thanks to this, people can gain new opportunities that they did not have before. It is also a good time to consider how to use technology as a tool to actually channel human expansion. “Modeling”, or rather modifying human capabilities, takes place on the fly, because every time we engage in technology, we also change our brain. Therefore, when designing technology, we should predict today how the changes that we will achieve thanks to technology will direct us and whether it will be a good direction. Technology will undoubtedly change the relationships we have with each other and in the areas where we work, train, heal and develop.

Technology may know more about us than we do ourselves. And that means we can support our mental and physical health on a very individual basis. It is worth being aware that today, basically everywhere we leave a digital trail of our behavior. On its basis, you can analyze not only our preferences and needs, but also our health. As the expert has added:  “Interactions with our devices leave very strong traces that correlate with our cognitive abilities, with many of our abilities and states that can reflect our psycho-physical state. How I touch my equipment, how I operate, certain patterns of my behavior in dealing with technology, i.e. not even what I click, but how I click! When we analyze it, the image we get becomes a very strong phenotype for my mental, cognitive and physical state. 

Empathetic algorithm

Empathic technology makes it possible to analyze our phenotype, e.g. on the basis of changes in our voice. When we compare the sound of our voice to the situation 10 years ago, it is completely different.

Our voice is one of the strongest predictors of our mental and physical health. The scientists  were able to predict the onset and likelihood of a patient developing psychosis over five years by looking at certain statistical distributions in conjunction with machine learning and AI semantic consistency. The diagnosis could be made today. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia appear slightly earlier, so by analyzing a person’s “linguistic signatures” and how their voice has changed over the course of 10 years, one can already try to diagnose these diseases. Based on behavioral patterns and their temporal dynamics, which – even the most sensitive and sensitive caregiver – cannot capture at an early stage, the algorithm can help with diagnosis as it analyzes data that is unique to the individual.

According to Poppy Crum we are now at a place where devices can know more about us than we do.

Our voice is an extremely powerful personal indicator of not only who we are but how well we are. How does the technology used on a daily basis relate to this? It is worth considering, for example, a simple microphone, a very inexpensive sensor, which, additionally armed with technologies: machine learning and artificial intelligence, will give new, great opportunities for diagnosing our health.

“Advances in medicine have changed our private and professional lives because they have changed our sense of fear and our willingness to take risks. I like to say that we are dealing with the end of the Humpty-Dumpty era: if we look back a hundred years ago, the risks and consequences of breaking the hands were completely different than today, right? So where are we? The enormous progress in medicine and diagnostics is possible thanks to the ubiquity of sensors that, combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence, allow to support personalized medical care and care for well-being in a way never before possible” – concluded Poppy Crum.