The Need for Critical Thinking
By Katherine A. Carroll, Associate Editor, NTP
Michio Kaku, in Physics of the Future, said, “Science is a double-edged sword; it creates as many problems as it solves, but always on a higher level.” When I reviewed his lengthy book in 2012, I noted, “How can we shape our minds to embrace the constant of change and have the discernment ready to sort the profitable and helpful from the controlling, damaging, and destructive? What is the future of health freedom? How much transparency is too much? If ever there was a need for a Constitution for the Race of Mankind, it is now.” That was three years ago. The time has indeed arrived; the future is now.
The health-freedom community must work quickly in the establishment of a safe structure where the flashflood of new technology can be employed without compromise or at least minimizing the latter.
Common Sense and Critical Thinking:
The Information Age has birthed unrestricted innovation in a free-market environment and increasing free trade. While the World’s first health-freedom organization, National Health Federation (NHF), fully supports sensible conduct of these principles, due diligence is essential when Moore's Law (really an observation) anticipates that data density will double roughly every 18 months. This sets a brisk learning curve accommodating rapid increases in knowledge coupled with increasing complexity. We must apply self-regulation and self-reliance, honed using critical thinking skills in a proactive way, both to educate and incorporate beneficial change.
The new learning model declares that “to learn something once is outdated thinking.” Floods of new information, upgrades, updates, etc. mean we learn and relearn again and again. Instead of turning to professionals or officials for advice and direction, now an elevated analytical response in a fully participatory vein is demanded lest we are swept away in a tsunami of misplaced techno-trust in man or machine.
I Spy From the Inside
In 2012, I alerted the health-freedom community to privacy compromises inherent in emerging technology. Sober evaluation of the threat requires the development, honing, and conveyance to others of critical thinking skills. Formal education can help but is not an endpoint. Educators typically don’t come from the standpoint of teaching critical thinking skills. Conformity and rigidity, adherence to outmoded ideas, and dogmatic formalism can undermine the inherent benefit of higher education. And while the situation has improved since the 17th Century when Commenius called schools “the slaughterhouse of the mind,” we must remain vigilant if we are to rigorously analyze and assess each technology in turn and its potential side-effects as they relate to privacy, security, and the loss of personal sovereignty. The devil is always in the details and however extraordinary the innovation the law of unintended consequences invariably rules the day.
Specifically, we must become efficient in anticipating problems in privacy, data security, and loss of personal sovereignty before adopting and implementing technology in nanobots, wearables, smart technology, nanopackaging, and comprehensive personnel/personal databases. The question remains as to whether “we” in this context is the collective or the individual. NHF engages with global policy makers at Codex challenging both obvious and extenuating ramifications of their decisions, and to varying effect; but the informed individual, operating in concert with others, can affect market forces and effect positive change among technology providers from the grassroots level. An informed citizenry applying critical thinking analysis is therefore crucial.
In this context, earlier this year3 via NHF, I sounded the alarm demanding the need for critical thinking where remote-controlled nanobots delivering medications onsite in the bloodstream are concerned. The technology is advancing quickly and the privacy/sovereignty concerns are not keeping pace. With regenerative and nanomedicine, nanobots coursing through the bloodstream, delivering medicines directly to the site or used in anti-aging therapies with propellers powering them, your body has become a gamer’s dreamscape, the players – medical technicians. Your body is their “wonderland.”
The situation becomes more futuristic and even alarming when considering “Transhumanist” advocacy for cyborgization (human and machine combination), genetic engineering, and synthetic biology, to increase our intelligence, health, and lives so as to transform humanity to a “post-human” stage. This vision holds man transcending the limitations of mere humanity, in this “post-human” World, and not merely the potentiated man by combining with machines.
These are all issues that need further exploration by medical ethicists and the informed citizenry as formerly-fanciful science fiction approaches science fact. To reiterate, the future threshold has been traversed. The demand is for common sense coalesced with critical thinking skills and the ability to adapt to accelerated change in an increasingly complex environment.
The Techno-Tsunami in “Geek-Speak”
When you read the words “techno-tsunami in geek-speak” you realize how fast our world is changing – specifically “wearables”. Language expands to match innovation.
“FRAMINGHAM, Mass. June 18, 2015 – The wearables market maintained its upward trajectory in the first quarter of 2015 as new vendors, including Apple, prepared to enter the market. A new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker estimates that 72.1 million wearable devices will be shipped in 2015, up a strong 173.3% from the 26.4 million units shipped in 2014. Shipment volumes are expected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.6% over the five-year forecast period, reaching 155.7 million units shipped in 2019.”
Or consider this quote from an industry executive: "Growth in the smart wearables market points to an emerging battleground among competing platforms," said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Wearables.
This techno-tsunami with its own “geek-speak” has raced past GMO-laden and other danger-foods entering a raging tech market with cutthroat competition racing for a compatible platform for emerging innovations with the Internet of Things (IoT). To date, machine to machine (M2M) or “smart” communication has dominated the IoT (think electricity smart meters and their poorly assessed high-power RF emissions). Now wearables such as the Apple Watch, Google Glasses, heartrate monitors, activity trackers, and implanted medical devices, fitness bands, smart clothing, etc. are the focal point in our “wired” lifestyle. Wearables provide historical and real-time data, the raw material for in-depth analysis of vital statistics, luring with the siren song promising more knowledge leading to greater health. Add to wearables, “smart surfaces” wired with sensors that measure data and actors performing a function. This comprises the IoT and ultimately sends information to Big Data, which supports all of the connected constituent devices. Data is analyzed and relayed to the wearer, their family members, medics, or doctor if problems emerge. Identification, security, biometric measurements, and location sensing are the foundations. All part of a profitably-rising sector in an unchecked tech-geyser.
“Wearables in healthcare share many characteristics with the networks of sensors in Internet of Things (IoT) applications. But healthcare adds additional complexities, particularly regarding security. When an individual’s personal health data comes into the mix, more complicated laws, security regulations and privacy concerns start to kick in. However, with this large-scale volume of data, providers must not forget the basics of data management in healthcare. Health data is especially highly sensitive information – both in a legal sense (health information is categorised as ‘sensitive’ under EU data protection law) but also in the sense of everyday consumer trust (people feel that information about their health is private).”
The critical thinker demands to review studies correlating the connection between ill-health and exposure to wireless technology worn on the body. Will the trade-offs be worth the risks? And in the absence of studies from emerging technology, common sense reigns. Or not …. What about security breaches and the posting, even on social media, of one’s private medical records and the sale of the same? This knowledge comes at a high potential price-risk. The choice to be visibly monitored by others is yours; life in a fishbowl or privacy?
In the IoT world, unique identifiers are assigned to people, animals, and objects allowing the ability to transfer data over the network without requiring human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction; sensors, biochip transponders, medical implants such as heart monitors, or anything which could receive an Internet Protocol (IP) address are the “things” in the IoT. This sets the stage for breaches in cyber-security, privacy, and data sovereignty with the potential increase in “smart nodes” and the data generated from them.
Technology is not to be feared but embraced. However the foundation of the tech-innovation deluge does not provide gains without attendant concerns and risks to health and health freedom primarily in the realm of data sovereignty, data security, privacy, and electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. NHF promotes the true free market and individual freedom. Welcoming innovation like wearable tech, we still caution “buyer beware” now more than ever before. Reference the science on exposure to near-continual EMFs and potential or proven health risks. Until the problems admittedly inherent in the IoT and Big Data are solved the tech-embrace must come with research, discretion, and self-protection.
2014: The Year of the Security Breach
2014 is officially “The Year of the Security Breach” Where medical fraud is concerned, it is clearly not possible to rely on security of new-to-market technology and equipment where vulnerabilities may be embedded. Hospitals are infamous for outdated systems and lax security. Cyber- attacks and stolen records are on the rise. Medical records are worth more than credit card numbers on the black market. “[T]he FBI warned healthcare providers to guard against cyber-attacks after one of the largest U.S. hospital operators, Community Health Systems Inc. said Chinese hackers had broken into its computer network and stolen the personal information of 4.5 million patients.”
In May 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management reported that government cyber-vulnerability compromised the data of 22.1 million people. Stolen records of Federal employees and those undergoing background and security checks extended to compromise family and friends as well. “OPM has determined that the types of information in these records include identification details such as Social Security Numbers; residency and educational history; employment history; information about immediate family and other personal and business acquaintances; health, criminal and financial history; and other details. Some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and fingerprints. Usernames and passwords that background investigation applicants used to fill out their background investigation forms were also stolen.”
The National Health Care (NHS), which provides health care for all UK citizens, reported its own data breaches as well, “Big Brother Watch discovered cases of private data being stolen, accidentally sent by post or fax as well as inappropriate posting on social media. In total, there were 7,255 recorded incidents between April 2011 and April 2014. The organisation said the mistakes were ‘unacceptable.’ Yet the majority of cases resulted in no disciplinary action and were made “by mistakes.”
Whether shared on social media, lost or stolen, shared with a third party, shared by email, letter, or fax, accidentally published online, we should determine in advance of the need the establishment of our own personal privacy boundaries where medical record keeping is concerned, to the extent that that boundary is not established by government fiat for us first.
The Ménage a Trois: IoT, Big Data and You
Questions need to be answered. We are streaking like a meteor toward an increased pervasive unleashing of intelligence about our daily lives. Information and the convenience of being connected to your environment comes at a high price. There are so many variables to consider with Moore’s Law, increasing complexity, and globalization marking this era. Some places to start:
- Employ the Mediterranean diet to reduce chance by 50% of employing therapy in the first place
- Discipline time-management to include study, research, and exposure to emerging tech in personal IoT devices, healthcare, and personal data collection.
- Increase critical thinking skills to evaluate options – a responsibility for all citizenry
- Keep investing at the global level to shape global politics at Codex through NHF
- Craft a “Bill of Rights” or a “Constitution for the Race of Mankind” for AI and the IoT.
 Katherine A. Carroll, “Book Review, Physics of the Future,” Globalfoodfighter, 2011, at http://globalfoodfighter.com/2015/07/18/book-review-by-katherine-a-carroll-associate-editor-ntp-physics-of-the-future-how-science-will-shape-human-destiny-and-our-daily-lives-by-the-year-2100-by-machio-kaku/.
 Katherine A. Carroll, “I Spy From the Inside,” Globalfoodfighter, 2015,at http://globalfoodfighter.com/2015/04/15/i-spy-from-the-inside-by-katherine-a-carroll-ntp-associate-editor-national-health-federation/.
 Edwin Kee, “Nanobot Micromotors Can Deliver Payload in Living Creatures,” Ubergizmo, 1/21/2015, at http://www.ubergizmo.com/2015/01/nanobot-micromotors-can-deliver-payload-in-living-creatures/?__scoop_post=3ccf7c20-2fcd-11e5-f3f1-001018304b75&__scoop_topic=1167334#__scoop_post=3ccf7c20-2fcd-11e5-f3f1-001018304b75&__scoop_topic=1167334
 Alexandra Grunberg, “From Cyborgs to Nanobots: 5 Ways Scientists Hope to Achieve Immortality for Humanity,”July 20, 2015, Outer Places, at
 Press Release, “Worldwide Wearables Market Forecast to Grow 173.3% in 2015 with 72.1 Million Units to be Shipped, According to IDC,” IDC, Global Market Intelligence Firm, June 18, 2015 at http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25696715
Mark Gamble, “Wearables, Big Data and Analytics in Healthcare,” July 17, 2015, The Information Daily, at
 Robert Richardson, “Information Security 2014: Shifts ahead after a watershed year,” Reuters, September 24, 2014, at
 Caroline Humer and Jim Finkle, “Your medical record is worth more to hackers than your credit card,” Reuters, September 24, 2014, at
 News Release, Office of Communications, “OPM Announces Steps to Protect Federal Workers and Others From Cyber Threats,” Office of Personnel Management, July 9, 2015, at
 BBC News, “NHS has repeated data breaches,” BBC News, November 14, 2014, at http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30037938
 Knoops KT1, de Groot LC, Kromhout D, Perrin AE, Moreiras-Varela O, Menotti A, van Staveren WA., “Mediterranean diet, lifestyle factors, and 10-year mortality in elderly European men and women: the HALE project,” JAMA. 2004 Sep 22;292(12):1433-9, at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15383513
 Andy Meek, “Connecting artificial intelligence with the internet of things,” The Guardian, July 24, 2015, at