Countries are getting ready to tax the big Intenet giants.
But are they just targeting these companies or are they trying to address the underlying issues?
In my mind, it’s about data and information assets which are used to create or drive products which generate revenue.
This is not just about digital advertising revenue from search or social media (Google, Facebook). Or even about cloud computing infrastructure (AWS, Azure). It is much more.
What about massive genetic or sensor based data captured from large populations, and then used to create healthcare or diagnostic products? Or market specific information, which powers up securities trading systems?
Let’s say an American or Chinese or European company creates a wearable device healthcare product (for example, early detection or prediction of heart disease). This product or cloud based service then proceeds to generate large revenues from India and globally. What if the service was made possible and grows in value by using sensor based data from Indian citizens?
How does India tax this company?
This is complex new territory for taxation. We have fairly well established methods for taxation of services, goods and capital which move across borders.
We do not have anything yet for data or the products created using that data.
“Sugar kills more people than gunpowder every year”
Sugar (Sucrose and Fructose) are the biggest killers of our times. And sugar kills painfully and slowly through metabolic disease.
The problem is it’s addictive nature. Sugar may be more addictive than cocaine.
In my opinion, there is no way to solve this unless we have a safe substitute for our tastebuds.
The artificial sweeteners are not working because they have safety issues. Some “safe” alternatives like stevia have taste and flavour issues.
There is some interesting work happening to solve these problems.
One approach I read about is to isolate the sweetening compound from stevia and figuring out some other way of manufacturing it. This isolated compound does not have the taste issues present in stevia, which are due to some of the other compounds in it.
Another possible solution is inert sugar alcohols. Erythritol for example. Cost effective production of erythritol is a challenge which some companies are working to overcome. The other sugar alcohols are not so inert and cause gastric distress.
There is an interesting direction being explored by this Israeli company, using another sweetener that is available in a tropical plant. Read about it at this link – https://medium.com/s/2069/in-the-future-your-food-will-be-sweetened-with-protein-e7659485731e?
I am sure other approaches will emerge too. The world needs something to reduce sugar consumption. Sugar is the tobacco of our age.
I was just reading an interesting article on the World Economic Forum website which speaks about seven interesting ways in which AI is being used today in healthcare.
Imaging seems to be a core application area and it’s not just about radiology. Skin cancer diagnosis for example. That’s an imaging and recognition problem.
Eye scans is another imaging application. It appears that the two areas where AI is already doing very well is in the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
I found the reference to brain scans and the corresponding imaging application very intriguing. The AI looks at the brain scan and is able to make a better prediction than a human doctor on the probability that a person in a coma will recover.
The radiology and cardiology applications. As also the interpretation of CT scans are more straightforward and intuitive. Here is a link to the article – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/7-amazing-ways-artificial-intelligence-is-used-in-healthcare/
I am looking forward to big leaps in diagnosis via imaging at a microscopic level and spectrometry. How great it would be to diagnose common infections or micro nutrient deficiencies or most of the blood work that a lab does today; by simply shining a light on a drop of blood or maybe through the skin or pointing a camera into the eye. The machine interprets the image and gives you an almost instant diagnosis. Not just of an existing disease but also the likelihood of getting one?
The nature of imaging and interpretation is changing too. Soon we will not have the need to get into big machines for images from inside our bodies. Imaging could be a continuous affair using devices we can wear. This is already true for ECG. If the work of people like Mary Lou Jepsen becomes real, that’s what we will have. And surprisingly she uses sound to look into into the body. There’s an article about her work here – link – https://medium.com/s/where-is-the-future/telepathy-could-be-real-are-we-ready-2750f11ddfbd
This will mean that diagnosis is not a matter of looking at an image and comparing it with a knowledge base of images. It will be looking at a series of images. Hundreds or thousands or millions of them to identify patterns that point at something amiss. This is the amount of data that a human being will never be able to handle. An explosion in data will necessarily require machines to interpret the data. That’s the future of imaging and AI in medicine.
Here is a Ted talk that delivers an excellent though well known insight which is the basis of rational decision making – “You can not control outcomes. You can only control processes.” https://go.ted.com/CtRj
Another way of saying this would be “Its of no use focusing on goals. It makes sense only to focus on the best set of actions that will get us to our goals”
This is the wisdom of the ages. We hear this not only from many of the gurus of today but is also baked into the folklore and cultural/religious heritage in almost all civilisations.
In the Bhagwad Gita, this is one of the most popular verses “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana”. People interpret it in many ways. For me it is simple and clear – It says, “focus on the best process or set of actions that will get you to your goal. Focusing on the goal will actually hinder your chances of getting there.”
You hear the exact same thing from the Greeks. The stoics and others. In Seneca’s words – “The wise man regards the reason for all his actions, but not the results.”
You hear it said in a different way by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
The Buddhist interpretation of Karma is almost the same.
I am willing to bet that this simple piece of knowledge exists in every major philosophy and culture.
It’s good to have goals. So you know what you want to accomplish. After that it makes sense to figure out what needs to be done to get there and then focus only on the actions while course correcting along the way.
You can not control the outcome. Only your actions.