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The Rise of the Underground Bio-Economy

We like to look to hidden places to find some of our most intriguing signals about the future--and in this case, an unusual crime seems to be pointing toward the increasingly important, and increasingly contentious role that biological sciences will have in fields like food and health in the next decade. That unusual crime? The black market trade of hookworm as a DIY cure for auto-immune disorders such as asthma.

A Lesson in Designing Nudges from the World of Crime Prevention

The BBC has a great article up exploring subconscious efforts to fight crime through design.

The Fascinating Future of Cloud Diagnosis

Via a slightly old article in Good Magazine comes word of a great student project out of Australia called StethoCloud that is aimed at using the receiver on a phone to diagnose pneumonia by capturing the breathing of a potential pneumonia patient and sending that information off to the cloud for analysis.

The Sharing Economy and the Future of Food

My latest Fast CoExist piece is up and it looks at the challenge of thinking about how to use practices around sharing to rebalance a global food system where both the number of hungry and number of overweight people hover around 1 billion (depending on which estimates you use.)

It begins:

Why 3-D Pharmaceutical Printing May Emerge from Outside the U.S.

The Guardian has a great interview with a Scottish professor named Lee Cronin who is working on developing a system to create pharmaceuticals through 3-d printing. Which is to say that he wants to make downloading and manufacturing medicine as simple as printing a web page.

After noting the barriers--of which there are many--Cronin offers up this big vision:

20 Years from Now, You'll Have Alzheimer's

As part of our Ecosystems of Well-Being map last year, we argued that the increasing importance, as well as the increasingly confusing challenge, of anticipating how today's measures and metrics affect our future health states will be central to shaping health and well-being in the next decade. There are a couple of key challenges with anticipatory health--the first is that, for the most part, we can't anticipate with 100 percent accuracy, but instead, have to operate by understanding fuzzy probabilities of disease.

Participatory Social Systems for Well-Being

One of the big stories we highlighted in last year's Ecosystems of Well-Being Map centered around participatory health, and it stems from a set of broader trends we're seeing both in and out of health. In effect, this story highlights efforts to co-create the conditions that produce well-being--meaning crowdsourcing infrastructure development, using peer-to-peer tools to connect with each other and meet health needs. It's a world where our well-being comes not from what we can do as individuals, but from what we can do together.

Using Technology to Manage Our Addiction to Technology

File this under the category of things that probably shouldn't be medical problems: Computer Eyes. What are computer eyes? They're what happens when you spend so much time staring and working at digital screens that you strain your eyes. At least in Japan, this is apparently enough of a problem that the consumer electronics company Panasonic is releasing an eye rejuvenating system this September that is designed to treat eye strain related to computer use.

Data Exhaust and the Future of Peer Pressure

About a month ago, I received several negative comments through Twitter about a blog post on the idea that people are beginning to threaten themselves with embarrassment online as a strategy to improve health by, for example, installing a sensor enabled refrigerator that lets its owner's network know when he goes for a midnight snack. At the time, I wrote about the concept as an example of "smart pain," which is to say short-term, relatively harmless pain designed to help us achieve longer term goals.

Lie Detectors Everywhere

Want to know if your son ate his vegetables?

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