Google's stronghold on our health

Google's AI has fun with animal faces, but what about the company's access to our bodies themselves?
Just when you thought the tech giant couldn't get any more powerful, Google is taking greater steps into the game of healthcare information.

In the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak, journalists, policymakers, and everyone in-between have voiced their concerns about who has access to what data. Many fear the potential for danger from having those in power have access to too much data. Now it's been revealed Google's artificial intelligence company DeepMind, which recently gained attention for defeating the world champion at the board game Go, has access to healthcare data of over one million patients in the United Kingdom, the New Scientist reports. Unlike other news reports of giant companies having access to large amounts of information, Google's stronghold on our data-sharing means its securing that information for the purpose of artificial intelligence programs, something many need to understand.

My friends and I have been buzzing about the potential of deep learning. It's easy to see how a robot can perform a task using a calculation such as defeating someone in a board game. My buddy Ji-Sung Kim, undergraduate at Princeton University, developed deepjazz, a software that creates jazz music. Composing music is an activity much more human than solving a mathematics problem so developing an AI that can do so pushes the limits of what computers are capable of.

With the new data-sharing agreement, Google has access to millions of patient data. As if the monolith didn't control enough of everything in our lives, we need to give new considerations to the rights of patients, physicians, and everyone else in terms of healthcare information. Unlike, for example, collecting information on whose social media you follow or how many memes you have, mining the data of our healthcare presents an issue about our personhood. Our health is part of who we are, so we must be much more careful and use revised notions of responsibility, liberty, autonomy, and other ideals. And unlike accumulating data for the purpose of zeroing in on terror threats, fighting disease and epidemics using big data seems much more grounded in a moral sensibility. It neither encourages xenophobia nor blockades free speech. Many people trust Google. One might feel more comfortable knowing their data is with them rather than in the hands of a shady politician.

Regardless of where the answer lies, let's bring the issue under criticism and and enjoy the computerized music.