The big multinational firm Apple and the juggernaut of the pharmaceutical industry Eli Lilly want to fight dementia early thanks to technology. This is the flagship project of a study, presented at the 2019 Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) in Alaska.
This is the main thing to remember from this 2019 KDD. Apple and Eli Lilly collaborated on a study to better prevent dementia and related disorders with lifestyle information that can be collected by the iPhone. This partnership appears to be born out of the fact that 46.8 million people in the world live with some form of dementia and that it costs approximately $1 trillion a year to the various public health systems. In fact, the real challenge is prevention as the actual symptoms of dementia are often placed in the “old age” box.
How to prevent dementia?
In their study, researchers affiliated with Apple and Eli Lilly evaluate the feasibility of the project and the credibility of their results by comparing people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, average cognitive disorders, and healthy people for 12 weeks. Thanks to an iPhone, an Apple Watch and various applications (audio and video recording, data information, etc.), scientists can find out if people move, eat and sleep well, how their everyday lives are (behavior, general cognition, social interactions), the quality of their fine motor skills and their language.
In their model, the experimenters managed to identify several symptoms that would be taken seriously to prevent dementia.
Health: an excuse to recover data?
Even if the approach of these two companies seems laudable, we are entitled to ask some questions. For example, it may be speculated that Apple’s appeal to the prevention of dementia and diseases in general is a way to gain access to ever more personal data about individuals for insurance or marketing purposes.
For Eli Lilly, this could constitute (still speculating) a windfall to break away from the market regarding the offer of prevention of pathologies. Of course, all these questions must be debated and answered carefully. Who will have access to this data? How will they be managed? Will they be sold to other firms to serve their interests? To agree to the recovery and use of our personal data is not a trivial matter. Unfortunately, the majority of our generation is not really paying attention and this will be a problem if the political climate is as bad as our planet.
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