BrettW's Tech Tips

Aspirational thoughts

In my philosophy I maintain two beliefs:

  1. You can program pretty much anything you want.
  2. As adults, we can shape the world any way we deem fit.

The first one obviously has its Halting Problem limits, as well as limits on time and motivation. Having evolved as a full-blown Emacs user and written enough mini apps for myself and others, I realize that programming is power. If you find a hole you want filled, fill it!

The second is a funny counter to tradition and I think I got the idea from XKCD. Though maybe initially in the form of a negative example 🙂

So I was thinking. I’m a decent programmer. I know a bunch of maths, science, artificial intelligence and computer programming. What can I do for the world?

In Australia there were at last census roughly 70,000 doctors (GPs and specialists) and a quarter of a million nurses. It’s almost a stereotype that they are overworked and under-resourced, especially given the advances in medicine and the still-fuzzy legal landscape.

There’s 86,400 seconds in a day. If I could do something that could save each doctor one second every day, then Australia basically gets a free doctor for a day. One second. If I could shave off five minutes for each doctor every day, then that’s 243 free doctor-days a day. And that would be even more if we’re talking nurses. This isn’t going to solve the pressures on the medical industry, but it might help.

The first thoughts are: How? I don’t know. I know that I’m a better programmer than the vast majority of doctors and I know what a computer is capable of.

Of course whenever you touch medicine there’s legal and ethical issues. Surely there’s places where you can avoid that, though. I’m no lawyer, but perhaps you could mitigate that somewhat by making it open source and having community involvement rather than private individual or companies doing so. It’d be nice to make a stack of cash, but I think it’s millions of times nicer helping people.

I’m not sure where to go with this goal, but it seems like a goal worth having and worth sharing. If I can’t do it, I hope someone else can.

Off the cuff bonus ideas

Here’s some quick-fire ideas to get you thinking

Better digital organizers for doctors
CALO was researched to keep military commanders on top of things. Why not a CALO for doctors?
Network optimization
Can you improve the medical network’s data efficiency to get those small gains?
Do it for science
Scientists sometimes aren’t the greatest programmers. Can we apply these ideas there?

Posted on: 8:47 am on 17 Feb 2014
Filed under: Programming
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