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Tag: Mike Magee

Don’t Limp. Crush the “Trump Reich.”

By MIKE MAGEE

I have always felt a kinship with EJ Dionne. We are both Boomers, though I am 4 years his senior. We share similar politics, religious origins, early Catholic school educations, fathers in health care and mothers who were teachers, deep New England roots, addiction to the written word, blessings with long marriages and children (they 3, we 4), and deep revulsion with Trump and his enablers and everything they represent.

Viewing him as measured and wise, I took special care in reading his Washington Post column yesterday, “The words about Joe Biden I never wanted to write.”

For twelve days since that first debate, I have worked to remain officially neutral on “what next to do,” and stayed focused on how to ensure a decisive (message-sending) defeat not only of Trump but Republicans up and down the ticket, so that there is no confusion that the whole cabal – Project 2025, Leonard Leo et al, the  Supreme Court’s “Doomed Crusade”, Bannon-led MAGA insurrectionists – is sufficiently devastated that it cannot remerge from the cinders.

There is no doubt that Biden’s physical and mental decline was on full view for over 50 million Americans two weeks ago. And you don’t have to be a medical historian or a prize winning journalist to recognize that the degenerative processes that are responsible for his decline are progressive (albeit possibly slowly progressive). That is to say, his decline will continue, as predictably as did Ronald Reagan’s.

But as E.J. makes clear in his opinion piece this week, “Biden’s capacity to do a ‘good job’ is not ‘what this is about.’ Donald Trump’s threat to democracy is the overriding question before the country…”

While Dionne is right that this is not “about Biden,” he understates the problem when he suggests instead that it is about Trump alone. That is no more true than to suggest that WWII was only about Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito, when in fact the challenge was far greater than that.

Stated simply, the human species in the Axis societies had gone off the rails, and channeled themselves into a death spiral. “Breaking the spell” required unprecedented force and ultimately the use of atomic bombs, followed by multi-decade investments through the Marshall Plan to reestablish civilized human societies.

President Biden limping to the finish line and repeating slight margin victories in seven swing states will not solve America’s current problem. We are too far along. As with Hitler’s Germany in the 30’s, the enemy’s course trajectory is by now visible for all to see, and it will achieve its’ Project 2025 goals and objectives if allowed. These determined radicalized leaders are more than halfway there, fueled with a religious fervor that cannot be modified by honest debate or calm logic.

Success breeds success as well for evil as for good. So far, with Biden still in power, political arsonists have achieved an immune Executive branch; a biased Judiciary with no Code of Ethics; a House of Representatives directed from Mar-a-Lago; and 14 state houses with absolute control over their citizens reproductive rights.

Clearly the problem is bigger than Trump. Project 2025’s declaration leaves little room for confusion. It states: “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day One of the next conservative Administration.”

There will be no Pearl Harbor to wake us from our sleep, or galvanize our clear majorities that know in their hearts that something has gone very, very wrong. That Presidential debate was our final warning.  Time’s up. As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said this weekend “This is a really critical week. I do think the clock is ticking.”

What then is the formula for an overwhelming defeat of the Trump Reich? Three pillars: Energy, Enthusiasm, Women-Led.

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular THCB contributor. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex (Grove/2020)

Jake and Dana: Please Ask This Question.

By MIKE MAGEE

In case you were trying to forget, the first Presidential Debate is this week.

Question: Would Healthy Women Create a Healthy Democracy?

When he assumed the role as the AMA’s 178th president on June 13, 2023, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH focused on inequities in health care as a top priority for his year in office. In a memorable opening that day in Chicago, the Wisconsin anesthesiologist shared a personal mission with 700 AMA delegates centered on his then 4 year old son. Ethan was born 10 weeks premature at 2 lbs 7 oz.

Watching my son cling to life, I was struck by the painful reality that, even though I was a physician and now, a father, neither I, nor my husband, could donate blood simply because we are gay. Discriminatory policies—policies rooted in stigma, not science—barred us from doing the most humane of acts, donating our blood.”

Dr. Ehrenfeld used that story as a jumping off point to share his priorities as their new President. He pledged that day to seek justice and equity, highlighting:

“Black women are at least three times as likely as white women to die as a result of their pregnancy.

“Black men are 50% more likely to die following elective surgery.

“LGBTQ+ teens and young adults suffer higher rates of mental health challenges that often go undiagnosed.”

He also warned, in the shadow of the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, of  “… discouraging trends related to health outcomes—maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are more than double those of other well-resourced nations, for instance—and are becoming more prevalent.”

But when it came to the politics of reproductive health access, he chose his words carefully and took a quieter tone with the audience of politically savvy doctors from red and blue states.

Certain aspects of the countrys political climate have become dangerously polarized. Politicians and judges are making decisions about health care formerly reserved for patients and physicians and patients…” he said.

This statement, coming one year after Dobbs, clearly did not mirror, in intensity, the words of his predecessor, Jack Resneck Jr.,MD, who wrote on the day of the decision, “The American Medical Association is deeply disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly a half century of precedent protecting patients’ right to critical reproductive health care…In alignment with our long-held position that the early termination of a pregnancy is a medical matter between the patient and physician, subject only to the physician’s clinical judgment and the patient’s informed consent, the AMA condemns the high court’s interpretation in this case.”

That sentiment was reinforced by the nation’s 25,000 OBGYNs, 60% of whom are women. Their association (ACOG) wrote, “Today’s decision is a direct blow to bodily autonomy, reproductive health, patient safety, and health equity in the United States. Reversing the constitutional protection for safe, legal abortion established by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago exposes pregnant people to arbitrary state-based restrictions, regulations, and bans that will leave many people unable to access needed medical care.”

Statements on behalf of the American Nurses Association, and the organizational arms for both physicians associates (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) were equally forthright.

There are 4.2 million nurses, over 1 million doctors, and over 1/2 million PAs and NPs in the US. And as the latest US Census Report headlined, “Your health care is in women’s hands. Women hold 76% of all health care jobs.” This includes 90% of all nursing positions66% of PAs, and 55% of all current Medical School slots.

Not surprisingly, as women numbers have risen, traditional oaths for the caring professions have reflected changing priorities. For example, the women majority 2022 entering class of Penn State’s College of Medicine for the first time gave top billing in their professional oath to patients, not to the gods: By all that I hold highest, I promise my patients competence, integrity, candor, personal commitment to their best interest, compassion, and absolute discretion, and confidentiality within the law.”

Seven years earlier, the American Nurses Association (ANA), created a formal Code of Ethics, which largely supplanted the 1893 Nightingale Pledge, with a four pillared Code which celebrated Autonomy (patient self-determination), Beneficence (kindness and charity), Justice,(fairness) and Nonmaleficence (do no harm), as anchors to Nursing’s 9 Provisions (or Pledges) that commit to: compassion and respect, patient-focus, advocacy, active decision making, self-health, ethical environment, scholarly pursuit, collaborative teamwork, professional integrity and social justice.

During Dr. Ehrenfeld’s one-year tenure following the Dobbs decision women’s access to health care deteriorated in red state after red state, a point reflected in clear losses for Republicans on statewide initiatives supporting abortion access from Kansas to Kentucky, and Vermont to Michigan. But as the Kaiser Family Foundation reported this year, “As of April 2024, 14 states have implemented abortion bans, 11 states have placed gestational limits on abortion between 6 and 22 weeks…” Add to this that 1 in 5 current OB residents say they have decided to steer away from restrictive red states when they pursue practice opportunities on graduation.

And still, red states embracing MAGA’s marriage to White Nationalists seem to have doubled down on everything from restricting access to medication abortion and contraception, to book banning, to limiting  LBGTQ+ rights and promoting prayer in public schools in the hopes of achieving a Christian Nationalist society.

Which brings us to the fast approaching 2024 Presidential debate. Women’s reproductive autonomy will be well represented. It is arguably the premier equity and justice issue before us, central to both America’s patients and their caring health professionals. But let’s not forget it is also central to the health of our democracy.

John J. Patrick PhD, in his book Understanding Democracy, lists the ideals of democracy to include “civility, honesty, charity, compassion, courage, loyalty, patriotism, and self restraint.”

What other form of government is there that so closely aligns with the aspirational pledges and oaths of our doctors, nurses, and body politic?

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex.

“What’s Up With The Alitos?”

By MIKE MAGEE

The 1st Presidential debate is just around the corner. What should be Jake and Dana’s 1st CNN question. Here’s a suggestion:

What’s up with the Alito’s these days?

Justice Sam weighed in with tipping the American scale (by virtue of his decisions) toward “godliness,” while a seemingly unhinged flag-flying Martha-Ann invited the world inside their marriage, declaring “He never controls me.” Good to know.

Making it clear that her visceral reaction to a neighbor’s PRIDE flag was faith-based, she revealed a short-fuse and a long memory. As she said, “I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag because I have to look across the lagoon at the pride flag for the next month. I said (to Sam), ‘When you are free of this nonsense, I’m putting it up.’”

Harvard sociologist, Robert Putnam, and his co-author, Notre-Dame political scientist David Campbell, made it clear in 2010 that something was up with gender, religion and politics in their publication, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us.” In two sweeping surveys reported in the book, they revealed a change in attitudes that began to gain steam in 1970. To their surprise, “By 2006, majorities of every religious tradition except Mormons had come to favor women clergy. Nearly three-quarters of Americans said that women have too little influence in religion, a view that is widely shared across virtually all religious traditions and by both men and women.”

A recent AEI survey this year that catalogued religious affiliation of Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997-2012) showed that women (in much greater numbers than men) apparently have had just about enough when it comes to religious subjugation. Only 14% of the baby boomer women were self-described religious “nones,” while 34% of Millennials and a whooping 39% of Gen Z’s were turning their backs on male-led religions.

The problem, experts say, tracks back to the concept of “complementarianism”, a belief that the Bible supports strictly different roles for men and women, and that “wives should submit to their husbands.”

Subjugation of women historically has taken many forms. The most recent has been the elimination of health care access with the Dobbs decision and reversal of Roe v. Wade. But placing a lid on women’s autonomy has a rich history in America. Take for example divorce.  It was outlawed in most states south of the Mason-Dixon line until the mid-19th century. As legal historian Lawrence Friedman explained, “Essentially husband and wife were one flesh; but the man was the owner of that flesh.”

In 1847, Wisconsin newspaperman and editor of the Racine Argus, Marshall Mason Strong, warned in an editorial that the “domestic sphere” was under attack with men being “degraded, the wife unsexed, and children uncared for.” Strong lamented the loss of women’s “finer sensibilities” with “every trait of loveliness blotted out.”

Two centuries later, the majority of women are having none of it, delivering political defeat after political defeat to religious conservatives after the Dobbs decision. That decision was the culmination of a carefully planned and executed conservative takeover of the Supreme Court with Justice Alito in the lead. His intent, according to Yale legal scholar Neil S. Siegel, was to protect “Americans who hold traditionalist conservative beliefs about speech, religion, guns, crime, race, gender, sexuality and the family. These Americans were previously majorities in the real or imagined past, but they increasingly find themselves in the minority.”

What do the Alito’s fear most? They fear that traditionalists like themselves will be “branded as bigots.” Justice Alito said as much in his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges (same sex marriage). He wrote with some sense of drama “Those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes. If they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

His campaign to “protect majorities-turned-minorities” was also on full view five months before the 2016 Presidential election in his dissent after the Court declined to hear the case of a Washington State pharmacist who refused to fill prescribed contraceptives on religious grounds. Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman, left standing according to Alito, was “likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications…If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

AEI has little encouragement to offer the Alito’s.

The survey’s conclusion is rather stark: “None of this is good news for America’s places of worship. Many of these young women are gone for good. Studies consistently show that people who leave religion rarely come back, even if they hold on to some of their formative beliefs and practices. The decline in religious participation and membership has provoked a good deal of concern and consternation, but these latest trends represent a four-alarm warning.

And therein lies the problem. The recent actions of the Alito’s simply dig the hole deeper, as they await a reckoning with demographic fate. For the Alito’s, “the moment has revealed the man (and the woman).”

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and a regular THCB contributor. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical-Industrial Complex. (Grove/2020)

AI Cognition – The Next Nut To Crack

By MIKE MAGEE

OpenAI says its new GPT-4o is “a step towards much more natural human-computer interaction,” and is capable of responding to your inquiry “with an average 320 millisecond (delay) which is similar to a human response time.” So it can speak human, but can it think human?

The “concept of cognition” has been a scholarly football for the past two decades, centered primarily on “Darwin’s claim that other species share the same ‘mental powers’ as humans, but to different degrees.” But how about genAI powered machines? Do they think?

The first academician to attempt to define the word “cognition” was Ulric Neisser in the first ever textbook of cognitive psychology in 1967. He wrote that “the term ‘cognition’ refers to all the processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation…”

The word cognition is derived from “Latin cognoscere ‘to get to know, recognize,’ from assimilated form of com ‘together’ + gnoscere ‘to know’ …”

Knowledge and recognition would not seem to be highly charged terms. And yet, in the years following Neisser’s publication there has been a progressively intense, and sometimes heated debate between psychologists and neuroscientists over the definition of cognition.

The focal point of the disagreement has (until recently) revolved around whether the behaviors observed in non-human species are “cognitive” in the human sense of the word. The discourse in recent years had bled over into the fringes to include the belief by some that plants “think” even though they are not in possession of a nervous system, or the belief that ants communicating with each other in a colony are an example of “distributed cognition.”

What scholars in the field do seem to agree on is that no suitable definition for cognition exists that will satisfy all. But most agree that the term encompasses “thinking, reasoning, perceiving, imagining, and remembering.” Tim Bayne PhD, a Melbourne based professor of Philosophy adds to this that these various qualities must be able to be “systematically recombined with each other,” and not be simply triggered by some provocative stimulus.

Allen Newell PhD, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, sought to bridge the gap between human and machine when it came to cognition when he published a paper in 1958 that proposed “a description of a theory of problem-solving in terms of information processes amenable for use in a digital computer.”

Machines have a leg up in the company of some evolutionary biologists who believe that true cognition involves acquiring new information from various sources and combining it in new and unique ways.

Developmental psychologists carry their own unique insights from observing and studying the evolution of cognition in young children. What exactly is evolving in their young minds, and how does it differ, but eventually lead to adult cognition? And what about the explosion of screen time?

Pediatric researchers, confronted with AI obsessed youngsters and worried parents are coming at it from the opposite direction. With 95% of 13 to 17 year olds now using social media platforms, machines are a developmental force, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The machine has risen in status and influence from a side line assistant coach to an on-field teammate.

Scholars admit “It is unclear at what point a child may be developmentally ready to engage with these machines.” At the same time, they are forced to admit that the technological tidal waves leave few alternatives. “Conversely, it is likely that completely shielding children from these technologies may stunt their readiness for a technological world.”

Bence P Ölveczky, an evolutionary biologist from Harvard, is pretty certain what cognition is and is not. He says it “requires learning; isn’t a reflex; depends on internally generated brain dynamics; needs access to stored models and relationships; and relies on spatial maps.”

Thomas Suddendorf PhD, a research psychologist from New Zealand, who specializes in early childhood and animal cognition, takes a more fluid and nuanced approach. He says, “Cognitive psychology distinguishes intentional and unintentional, conscious and unconscious, effortful and automatic, slow and fast processes (for example), and humans deploy these in diverse domains from foresight to communication, and from theory-of-mind to morality.”

Perhaps the last word on this should go to Descartes. He believed that humans mastery of thoughts and feelings separated them from animals which he considered to be “mere machines.”

Were he with us today, and witnessing generative AI’s insatiable appetite for data, its’ hidden recesses of learning, the speed and power of its insurgency, and human uncertainty how to turn the thing off, perhaps his judgement of these machines would be less disparaging; more akin to Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, who announced with some degree of understatement this month, “We are looking at the future of the interaction between ourselves and machines.”

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex (Grove/2020)

GPT-4o: What’s All The Fuss About?

By MIKE MAGEE

If you follow my weekly commentary on HealthCommentary.org or THCB, you may have noticed over the past 6 months that I appear to be obsessed with mAI, or Artificial Intelligence intrusion into the health sector space.

So today, let me share a secret. My deep dive has been part of a long preparation for a lecture (“AI Meets Medicine”) I will deliver this Friday, May 17, at 2:30 PM in Hartford, CT. If you are in the area, it is open to the public. You can register to attend HERE.

This image is one of 80 slides I will cover over the 90 minute presentation on a topic that is massive, revolutionary, transformational and complex. It is also a moving target, as illustrated in the final row above which I added this morning.

The addition was forced by Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, who announced from a perch in San Francisco yesterday that, “We are looking at the future of the interaction between ourselves and machines.”

The new application, designed for both computers and smart phones, is GPT-4o. Unlike prior members of the GPT family, which distinguished themselves by their self-learning generative capabilities and an insatiable thirst for data, this new application is not so much focused on the search space, but instead creates a “personal assistant” that is speedy and conversant in text, audio and image (“multimodal”).

OpenAI says this is “a step towards much more natural human-computer interaction,” and is capable of responding to your inquiry “with an average 320 millisecond (delay) which is similar to a human response time.” And they are fast to reinforce that this is just the beginning, stating on their website this morning “With GPT-4o, we trained a single new model end-to-end across text, vision, and audio, meaning that all inputs and outputs are processed by the same neural network. Because GPT-4o is our first model combining all of these modalities, we are still just scratching the surface of exploring what the model can do and its limitations.”

It is useful to remind that this whole AI movement, in Medicine and every other sector, is about language. And as experts in language remind us, “Language and speech in the academic world are complex fields that go beyond paleoanthropology and primatology,” requiring a working knowledge of “Phonetics, Anatomy, Acoustics and Human Development, Syntax, Lexicon, Gesture, Phonological Representations, Syllabic Organization, Speech Perception, and Neuromuscular Control.”

The notion of instantaneous, multimodal communication with machines has seemingly come of nowhere but is actually the product of nearly a century of imaginative, creative and disciplined discovery by information technologists and human speech experts, who have only recently fully converged with each other. As paleolithic archeologist, Paul Pettit, PhD, puts it, “There is now a great deal of support for the notion that symbolic creativity was part of our cognitive repertoire as we began dispersing from Africa.” That is to say, “Your multimodal computer imagery is part of a conversation begun a long time ago in ancient rock drawings.”

Throughout history, language has been a species accelerant, a secret power that has allowed us to dominate and rise quickly (for better or worse) to the position of “masters of the universe.”  The shorthand: We humans have moved “From babble to concordance to inclusivity…”

GPT-4o is just the latest advance, but is notable not because it emphasizes the capacity for “self-learning” which the New York Times correctly bannered as “Exciting and Scary,” but because it is focused on speed and efficiency in the effort to now compete on even playing field with human to human language. As OpenAI states, “GPT-4o is 2x faster, half the price, and has 5x higher (traffic) rate limits compared to GPT-4.”

Practicality and usability are the words I’d chose. In the companies words, “Today, GPT-4o is much better than any existing model at understanding and discussing the images you share. For example, you can now take a picture of a menu in a different language and talk to GPT-4o to translate it, learn about the food’s history and significance, and get recommendations.”

In my lecture, I will cover a great deal of ground, as I attempt to provide historic context, relevant nomenclature and definitions of new terms, and the great potential (both good and bad) for applications in health care. As many others have said, “It’s complicated!”

But as this yesterday’s announcing in San Francisco makes clear, the human-machine interface has blurred significantly. Or as Mira Murati put it, “You want to have the experience we’re having — where we can have this very natural dialogue.”

Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex (Grove/2020)

Will AI Revolutionize Surgical Care?  Yes, But Maybe Not How You Think

By MIKE MAGEE

If you talk to consultants about AI in Medicine, it’s full speed ahead. GenAI assistants, “upskilling” the work force, reshaping customer service, new roles supported by reallocation of budgets, and always with one eye on “the dark side.”

But one area that has been relatively silent is surgery. What’s happening there? In June, 2023, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) weighed in with a report that largely stated the obvious. They wrote, “The daily barrage of news stories about artificial intelligence (AI) shows that this disruptive technology is here to stay and on the verge of revolutionizing surgical care.”

Their summary self-analysis was cautious, stating: “By highlighting tools, monitoring operations, and sending alerts, AI-based surgical systems can map out an approach to each patient’s surgical needs and guide and streamline surgical procedures. AI is particularly effective in laparoscopic and robotic surgery, where a video screen can display information or guidance from AI during the operation.”

The automatic emergency C-Section in Prometheus–Coming, but not quite yet!

So the ACS is not anticipating an invasion of robots. In many ways, this is understandable. The operating theater does not reward hyperbole or flash performances. In an environment where risk is palpable, and simple tremors at the wrong time, and in the wrong place, can be deadly, surgical players are well-rehearsed and trained to remain calm, conservative, and alert members of the “surgical team.”

Continue reading…

Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Trigger Universal Health Care in America? What do expert Academics say?

By MIKE MAGEE

In his book, “The Age of Diminished Expectations” (MIT Press/1994), Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman, famously wrote, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.”

A year earlier, psychologist Karl E. Weich from the University of Michigan penned the term “sensemaking” based on his belief that the human mind was in fact the engine of productivity, and functioned like a biological computer which “receives input, processes the information, and delivers an output.”

But comparing the human brain to a computer was not exactly a complement back then. For example, 1n 1994, Krugman’s MIT colleague, economist Erik Brynjolfsson coined the term “Productivity Paradox” stating “An important question that has been debated for almost a decade is whether computers contribute to productivity growth.”

Now three decades later, both Krugman (via MIT to Princeton to CCNY) and Brynjolfsson (via Harvard to MIT to Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI) remain in the center of the generative AI debate, as they serve together as research associates at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and attempt to “make sense” of our most recent scientific and technologic breakthroughs.

Not surprisingly, Medical AI (mAI), has been front and center. In November, 2023, Brynjolfsson teamed up with fellow West Coaster, Robert M. Wachter, on a JAMA Opinion piece titled “Will Generative Artificial Intelligence Deliver on Its Promise in Health Care?”

Dr. Wachter, the Chair of Medicine at UC San Francisco, coined his own ground-breaking term in 1996 – “hospitalist.” Considered the father of the field, he has long had an interest in the interface between computers and institutions of health care. 

In his 2014 New York Times bestseller, “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age” he wrote, “We need to recognize that computers in healthcare don’t simply replace my doctor’s scrawl with Helvetica 12. Instead, they transform the work, the people who do it, and their relationships with each other and with patients.”

What Brynjolfsson and Wachter share in common is a sense of humility and realism when it comes to the history of systemic underperformance at the intersection of technology and health care.

They begin their 2023 JAMA commentary this way, “History has shown that general purpose technologies often fail to deliver their promised benefits for many years (‘the productivity paradox of information technology’). Health care has several attributes that make the successful deployment of new technologies even more difficult than in other industries; these have challenged prior efforts to implement AI and electronic health records.”

And yet, they are optimistic this time around.

Continue reading…

Disability Activist: Take Great Care When Seeing Bias Toward Disabled Citizens

By RANDY SOUDERS

During the years I served as Chairman of the Board for Jean Kennedy Smith’s Arts and Disability program, Very Special Arts (VSA at the Kennedy Center), I had there opportunity to meet a wide range of remarkable and courageous disabled Americans. Among the lasting friendships is a painter and visual artist, Randy Souders, who was rendered quadriplegic at the age of 17 in a 1972 accident. His concerns of late have been heightened by Trump and MAGA Republicans. I share his communication with his permission here in the hope that tech designers and others will be alert to the fact that great care is required at this point, lest history repeat. — Mike Magee MD

When I was injured at the age of 17 the world was still quite closed for people like me. That was a year before passage of HR 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As I recall that law was the first to mandate access to public places that received federal funds. A year later Jean Kennedy Smith founded VSA (Very Special Arts) which has provided important arts opportunities to literally millions of people with disabilities around the globe. It was a very different world back then and artistic achievement was an important way people such as myself could prove their worth to a society that still saw little evidence of it.

It’s unbelievable to think there are serious threats to roll back many of those hard won gains in the name of deregulation and profitability. Disability is costly and people with disabilities are still woefully underemployed. So when a billionaire presidential candidate repeatedly mocks people with disabilities, how long till the “useless/ unworthy” excuses rise again? The old term describing a person with a disability as an “invalid” has another meaning. The adjective use is defined as “Not valid; not true, correct, acceptable or appropriate.”

Few today are aware that the first victims of the Holocaust were the mentally, physically and neurologically disabled people. They were systematically murdered by several Nazi programs specifically targeting them. The Nazi regime was aided in their crimes by perverted “medical doctors and other experts” who were often seen wearing white lab coats in order to visually reinforce their propaganda.

Branded as “useless eaters” and existing as “lives not worthy of life,” people with disabilities were declared an unbearable burden both to German society and the state. As Holocaust historians have documented, “From 1939 to 1941 the Nazis carried out a campaign of euthanasia known as the T4 program (an abbreviation of Tiergartenstrasse 4 which itself was a shortened version of Zentral Dienststelle-T4: Central Office T4) the address from which the program was coordinated.”

These most vulnerable of humans were reportedly the first victims of mass extermination by poison gas and cheaper CO2 from automobile exhaust fumes. But first “a panel of medical experts were required to give their approval for the euthanasia/ ‘mercy-killing’ of each person.”

In the end an estimated quarter million people with disabilities were killed in gas chambers disguised as shower rooms. This model for killing disabled people was later applied to the industrialized murder within Nazi concentration and death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

Much has been written on this topic but few seem to know the chronology and diabolical history of how these “beneficial cleansings” of undesirables often start. The Nazi’s enlisted medical doctors to provide them with a veneer of moral justification for their atrocities.

Throughout history, authoritarian political despots have also worked diligently to silence dissent and co-opt religion in order to assist in their mutual quests for total control and dominance of others.

Continue reading…

The ‘Barbie Speech’ – How Much Has Really Changed For Women in America?

By MIKE MAGEE

In our world where up is down, and black is white, there is a left and a right – it’s the middle we appear to be missing. Does it exist, or was it make believe all along?

Into this existential despair enters Britt Cagle Grant, the 47-year old Federal Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Stanford Law graduate, blessed by the Federalist Society and Leonard Leo, and former clerk of Hon. Brett Kavanaugh, was nominated by Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate on July 31, 2018.

Now six years later, her words in rejecting DeSantis’s “Stop Woke Act” (otherwise known as the “Individual Freedom Measure), are particularly crushing to her supporters: “By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, …it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin. Banning speech on a wide variety of political topics is bad; banning speech on a wide variety of political viewpoints is worse.”

When still a Presidential candidate in 2022, DeSantis used the bill as the leading edge of a divisive campaign based on white nationalist victimization, stating, “No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race. In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces.”

Ron and Casey DeSantis mirror in many ways the fictional Barbie and Ken – soon to be featured in the 2024 Academy Awards. The comparison of Ron to Ken needs little explanation. And Casey is equally well-credentialed. The former host of PGA Tour Today met her husband on the golf course, and was married at Disney World. Beautiful and smart as a whip, she graduated with a degree in Economics from the College of Charleston where she competed on the Equestrian Team.

With this most recent turn of events, the DeSantis family seems to be following the plot line (with its twists and turns) of Barbie – this year’s favorite for Picture of the Year. And in the aftermath of that film you will find a female disrupter at least as prominent as Justice Grant.

I am speaking of the brilliant actress, America Ferrera, who played a 39 year old mother and Mattel employee, and delivered what one film critique describes as “the ‘Barbie’ monologue we all talked about.” You can find the two minute speech in its entirety here, and it is well worth a listen. Ferrera herself described the big speech this way: “funny and subversive and delightfully weird.”

When I first heard the speech, (husband, father of a grown daughter, grandfather of six granddaughters, brother of six sisters) I cried at one specific line – “It’s too hard.” – That comes in the next to the last paragraph.

Here is “The Speech”:

“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.

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Are AI Clinical Protocols A Dobb-ist Trojan Horse?

By MIKE MAGEE

For most loyalist Americans at the turn of the 19th century, Justice John Marshall Harlan’s decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905). was a “slam dunk.” In it, he elected to force a reluctant Methodist minister in Massachusetts to undergo Smallpox vaccination during a regional epidemic or pay a fine.

Justice Harlan wrote at the time: “Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others.”

What could possibly go wrong here? Of course, citizens had not fully considered the “unintended consequences,” let alone the presence of President Wilson and others focused on “strengthening the American stock.”

This involved a two-prong attack on “the enemy without” and “the enemy within.”

The The Immigration Act of 1924, signed by President Calvin Coolidge, was the culmination of an attack on “the enemy without.” Quotas for immigration were set according to the 1890 Census which had the effect of advantaging the selective influx of Anglo-Saxons over Eastern Europeans and Italians. Asians (except Japanese and Filipinos) were banned.

As for “the enemy within,” rooters for the cause of weeding out “undesirable human traits” from the American populace had the firm support of premier academics from almost every elite university across the nation. This came in the form of new departments focused on advancing the “Eugenics Movement,” an excessively discriminatory, quasi-academic approach based on the work of Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin.

Isolationists and Segregationists picked up the thread and ran with it focused on vulnerable members of the community labeled as paupers, mentally disabled, dwarfs, promiscuous or criminal.

In a strategy eerily reminiscent of that employed by Mississippi Pro-Life advocates in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2021, Dr. Albert Priddy, activist director of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, teamed up with radical Virginia state senator Aubrey Strode to hand pick and literally make a “federal case” out of a young institutionalized teen resident named Carrie Buck.

Their goal was to force the nation’s highest courts to sanction state sponsored mandated sterilization.

In a strange twist of fate, the Dobbs name was central to this case as well.

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