Problems handling finances are often the first sign of cognitive decline, said co-author Daniel Marson…This behavior, Dr. Marson said, “is a strong indicator that you’ll be diagnosed with dementia,” often within a year.
—New York Times story about financial consequences of dementia and how doctors are trying to get more on top of it.
The thing is, doctors are pretty terribly positioned to recognize this or do anything about it. What’s the doc supposed to do? Ask for your Mint login after he stethoscopes you and says “breathe”?
On the flipside, there are other people who are extremely well-positioned to see this now: financial services software providers like Mint and financial services firms like banks and credit card processors. They are already running fraud detection software that looks for ‘unusual’ spending patterns. I know I’ve gotten calls from my bank for extremely small deviations from my normal spending patterns (essentially, if I do anything besides by computers, music equipment, food, or liquor my money providers are like ‘WHERE IS THE REAL JEB AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HIM?’)
Provided that the article is accurate, and there is something systematic here, that there’s a detectable heteroskedasticity in the financial datastream of the newly demented, shouldn’t it be easy for your banks to figure this out? You’d get a little letter in the mail, “hey, your mortgage payment was late for the first time in 29 years. Also you bought a lot of junk from QVC. Please go to the doctor for a neurological evaluation or we’re shutting off your debit card.”
They say that Facebook can guess with pretty good accuracy when two people are about to start dating from their click- and activity streams. I wonder if they can ever tell before the people can tell. I wonder if we aren’t leaving all sorts of diagnostic clues to our impending psychological or neurological problems all over datacenters in Northern California & New Jersey. Its like Big Data meets Big Medicine. “This guy deletes a lot of Facebook comments within ten minutes of writing them. Start showing him ads for Paxil.” At what point does this kind of possibility create a liability? Like, “Ladies and gentleman of the jury, Finn’s decrepit mental state was clearly visible when he ordered sixteen different editions of The Master & Margarita from Amazon Prime, and yet the defendant, Citibank, did nothing. That is why you must award the family of the dog he ran over with his psychedelic van six million dollars.”
How amazing is this video of a little baby getting his cochlear implant switched on? Also how amazing is the “YouTube : cochlear implant videos :: photography : hearing aid pictures”analogy? I saw this on Reddit this morning. There are dozens of these videos on YouTube (like this one).
Along with the controversy in the Deaf community, another issue with cochlear implants is that while they allow their users to understand speech and hear other environmental cues like doorbells and car horns, they don’t completely restore what we would generally think of as “hearing,” per se. The way the devices work is pretty simple: take an audio signal from a microphone, feed it to a filterbank with somewhere on the order of 8–20 bands. Take the levels from the filterbank’s outputs and map them to electrodes inserted into the cochlea, and hope the brain can reapply the tonotopic mapping in the cochlea to the pattern of stimulation from the electrodes.
This is essentially what the front half of a vocoder does. Not T-Pain’s Auto-Tune with retune speed set to zero that everyone calls “vocoding,” I’m talking about Roger Troutman and Zapp, California Love, Kraftwerk-style. Instead of using the vocoder front end to drive a filterbank hooked up to a keyboard or something, cochlear implants plug that part straight into the brain. It’s futuristic in a disco way.
Consequently, a cochlear implant does not let its user hear music, at least not in any way like what the hearing community would consider to be listening to music. When you hear Roger Troutman sing I Want To Be Your Man, all the pitch information is coming from the keyboards. The filtering, the harmonic structure of “Wanna Be Yooouuuur MaaAaaAn” comes from his voice and the vocoder, but it tosses out the pitch information, and the keyboard brings it back (which is why it sounds similar to Auto-Tune: the pitch is locked perfectly and has instaneous jumps with no gliss or portamento, because it’s a keyboard. Just like Auto-Tune when the retune speed is zero). This isn’t exactly how the cochlear implant works, but it’s similar.
The processing strategy is a main block upon which one has to choose the implant manufacturer, research shows that patients can understand speech with as at least 4 electrodes, but the obstacle is in music perception, where it returns that fine structure stimulation is an important issue. Some strategies used in Advanced Bionics and Medel strategies make use of fine structure presentation by implementing the Hilbert Transform in the signal processing path, while ACE strategies depends mainly on the Short Time Fourier Transform.
Ignoring for a second how not up to Wikipedia’s quality standards this bit is, how awesome is it that people are even working on this? “What? The electronic device you implanted in that child’s brain allows them to hear speech, ambient environmental sounds, and all the other auditory cues necessary for success in human society but NOT MUSIC? DID YOU TRY THE HILBERT TRANSFORM?” If I was a newspaper editor and I had to hed this story I’d go with “HUMANS: NOT TOTALLY SHITTY?”
Jätkäsaari is the target of a new planned district of Helsinki. Originally several islands, it was reshaped and reattached to the headland by way of land reclamation. They are in the process of relocating the current harbor industry to the eastern side of the city to make room for the construction.
Jätkäsaari is not a suburb, but occupies 100 hectares (about .4 square miles) along the southwestern coast. The plan calls for a dense urban neighborhood with housing for 15,000 that combines “top technology, ecological considerations and the centuries-old traditions of city life”.
Let’s hear it for the pedestrians:
Jätkäsaari will run counter to today’s constant growth in the number of cars; this will be a district designed primarily for pedestrians, with excellent public transport. It will have up to three tram lines, and the Helsinki Metro already runs close to the northern edge of the area. Cycle paths are being planned with great care to serve those living and working in every part of the district. The area will have very few streets allowing vehicular access, and every residential street will be a cul-de-sac. Through traffic will thus be minimal.
All that is old is new again:
The principle of minimizing motorized traffic will also apply to waste management. A process has been designed in which sorted household waste will go straight into a pneumatic conveyance system leading to a central underground collection point. This means that residents will not need to avoid garbage collection trucks navigating the narrow streets.
Read more here.