Table of Contents
If you read my articles, you know that I'm very frank about my own health issues. I have revealed just about everything except my favorite color of hospital socks (and just for the record, I prefer yellow), but I have always felt that it's important for me to be upfront about my own success with my own personal health program. For surviving life-threatening situations, I do great. For avoiding them, not so much.
A Future Scenario in Which Shared Personal Health Data Goes Bad
The year is 2987. Zbignar and Prevlak experience torrents of titulation at a random brain-to-brain data transfer. They take the wormhole to the bar at the edge of the universe to meet for a drink to assess the probability of sexual congress. Initial intimacy analysis was promising, but then Prevlak notices that Zbignar's heart rate variability does not increase in her voluptuous presence. She promptly beams him into open space.
Or let's consider something a bit more realistic. The year is 2019. Sally and Harry are on a date. As they are sipping their second cocktail, each of them is anxious to take a peek at the wearable devices each of them uses to answer an important question:
What is my heart rate variability?
Heart rate variability is the time between heartbeats. It is also an indicator of female sexual dysfunction or impotence in men. Heart rate variability is a useful indicator of various body functions governed by the autonomic pathway, which consists of sympathetic nerves from the eleventh thoracic to the second lumbar spinal cord segments and parasympathetic nerves from the second to fourth sacral spinal cord segments. A wearable heart monitor can give a estimate of abilities in bed, and also whether someone will get the burps after dinner.
When most of us think about sensitive personal information, we think about things like passwords, social media accounts, police records, employment history, text messages, G-chats, and Reddit. We don't think about our wearable fitness devices.
The truth is, there is a treasure trove of data about us in our fitness devices, and there are companies that in the early stages of research that will allow them to analyze that data for commercial decisions. The kind of world that was described in the movie Minority Report is not imminent, but the amount of information about not just mental but psychological health that is revealed by fitness devices is staggering. A lot of the links between biodata and health outcomes are not yet proven, but the data are accumulating so that in the future, the near future, they can be used to develop algorithms that predict not just fitness and health, but future behaviors that are of interest to lovers, spouses, parents, children, employers, marketers, police, and national security agencies. Even worse, it is inevitable that hackers will eventually turn their attention to fitness devices.