Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Immersing Myself in Imagination

I’m heading to TEDMED this week, and I have no idea what to expect.

I couldn’t be happier about that.

Of course, I know the tangible details of what TEDMED is all about. It’s is a multi-disciplinary gathering of people eager to share ideas, innovation and inspiration that can create a better future for health and medicine.

I’m thrilled to have been chosen as a delegate for TEDMED this year, joining attendees from across multiple fields — healthcare, science, technology, music, art, education, communication … you name it. I’ll also be part of TEDMED’s first-ever Great Challenges Day, where small groups of delegates work together using storytelling to help clarify and communicate some of today’s most complex issues in health and medicine.

Part me of wants to learn as much as I can about everything and everyone involved before I get there. The other part of me wants to put down my iPad and stop trying to absorb it all. (Especially at night, because the dizzying thought of the whole thing makes me too excited to sleep.)

Immersing Myself in Imagination

Instead, maybe I should just clear my mind and immerse myself in the experience, letting it wash over me as it comes.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be prepared. I want to make sure I don’t miss a thing, and there’s a lot to take in. But I think there’s a reason every day of the conference starts with the option of running, yoga or meditation. It’s a chance to invigorate our bodies and spirits before we begin. Exercise and meditation always clear my head; they help me see things I might otherwise overlook and prepare me to experience things in a different way.

Which, when you come right down to it, is the essence of TEDMED. We’re there to learn, of course, from the impressive lineup of presenters. But equally important, we’re there to create new connections that can spark innovation, to contribute what’s unique about each of us to the larger goal of uncovering new ways of seeing health and medicine — and the world around us.

Each of us will bring our knowledge, our curiosity and our dreams for what’s possible to TEDMED. The event will be organic, shaped by everyone who’s there. Which means there’s really no way to know what to expect.

I do know this: TEDMED will be a great adventure. So I plan to experience every moment as it unfolds, with a heart and mind open to the infinite potential in each of us. Because when we do that, great things can happen.


Photo: Sue Austin, a performance audience and presenter at TEDMED 2013, “aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to reveal the ‘Hidden Secret’ of disability.”

Man (or woman) and machine

I don’t have the new iPhone, so I haven’t personally experienced Siri. But from what I read, she can be pretty hilarious, much like iPhone’s autocorrect. Which made me think: Is high-tech always the best solution?

Man (or woman) and machine

Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPhone 4, although the autocorrect is often perplexing. Why would I want to type “u’s” instead of “us”? I don’t know either, but that’s what my iPhone thinks. I tried using the Voice Command feature, but it requires you to say things in a very specific way. I never got around to learning the lingo.

I also appreciate how technology can simplify certain tasks or improve accessibility. When my father became too arthritic to type anymore, he relied on voice recognition software to keep writing. But it was always riddled with mistakes.

In my work, I frequently have my recorded interviews typed out by human transcriptionists. There was a time when I thought I’d be able to save that expense by using voice recognition software instead. But the technology isn’t there yet. Many programs have to be adjusted to the speaker, so good luck adapting it to multiple voices and accents.

What’s more, I’m not sure I will ever want to replace a human with a machine. If my transcriptionist can’t understand a word, she puts it in red so I know she’s unsure. That way, I’ll know to question whether a source said “maniac” or “cardiac.” I’m sure some technology will flag that for you, but I still think a human can be more discerning.

Maybe that’s the biggest reason of all why I don’t see myself going all-automated any time soon. I like hiring people who deliver a service I need. They make my life easier. I help them make a living. And we make human connections I could never make with a machine.