Tag: Asif Dhar

Homo Ex Machina

flying cadeucii‘Temet Nosce’ or know thyself.

This is what The Oracle tells Neo when they first meet in The Matrix. Who we are and how we learn is a combination of our biology and our personal experiences. The plasticity of our minds and our genes make us individual persons in the world. Our individual mind and experiences are hard to offset. Sometimes we make decisions counter to our long-term wants because the wiring of our minds and our conditioned responses. Often it seems as if we are a slave to our desires and incapable of realizing our long-term goals. Would knowing myself better help me make better decisions?

Let me give you an example. As someone who has struggled with my weight, I would like nothing more than to make only healthy, evidence-based decisions when it comes to diet and exercise. But sometimes I don’t. A few months ago, I decided I needed to tip the scales in my battle against my desires. I downloaded a weight loss app, started counting steps and continued a lifelong practice of mindfulness, all in an effort to override those short-term desires and work toward my long-term goals. And I, like Oprah, lost 26 pounds over several months (both of us eating bread)!

Most of us struggle in one way or another with some sort of addiction, desire, impulse or emotion — by just being human — and understand all too well what it means to be enslaved to the biological machine. The awesome thing is now we seem to have digital tools to help set us free.

While walking (miles according to fitness tracker) at the HIMSS16 conference, something dawned on me. Many of the enterprise health IT software solutions that I saw at the conference and have spent most of my professional life with would do little to help me with obesity and to prevent me from developing diabetes. They are very helpful if I end up sick in a hospital but have little to do with preventing me from getting there. The consumer-centric technology counting my steps or my mobile solution helping me become aware of what I am eating might just do it.

Continue reading…