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Thoughts Inspired by Class with Chorost

Hilary_Brashear's picture

Immediately following our very interesting class yesterday I went to hear sociologist Jim House give a talk about health care reform in the US. House’s basic argument was that a person’s socio economic status is the most important factor in determining their health. He posited that we need to look at how we can ameliorate factors that make people sick rather than focus on the health care system itself. The idea is that if we have healthy people the demand for health care won’t be as great. In his research he found that in the US a person’s health is directly correlated to their socio economic status. He pointed out that wealthier people are more likely to benefit from developments and advancements in bio medicine and bio medical technology. This made me think about the politics of developing new technologies that integrate computers and brains. I image that this sort of research would be quite expensive. Because we have so many people in contemporary society that have problems that are fixable if we devoted more time and money to them, would it be worth it to spend the time, energy and resources on this new kind of technological development? While I certainly think this idea is valuable and interesting I wonder if it will distract the public from more pressing, and fixable problems.

On the other hand maybe a new communicative technology could actually help solve these social, economic and health problems. Chorost discusses how an integration with computers can help communication between humans by increasing empathy. Perhaps if people became more empathetic they would be more willing to make social changes to help other people. If those in power could physically be aware of the emotions of people whose lives they effect, perhaps they would consider the consequences of their actions more carefully.  

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