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NTCA 01/14/2019

CES: Managing the Human Condition Through Technology

Last week, we discussed affective AI, which contemplates the use of AI to read emotions and respond effectively. My college drama professor often invoked the term “human condition” to describe the gamut of what affects us all in the daily course of our lives—the personal impact of history, emotions, experiences and surroundings.

One condition of growing concern is the opioid crisis. Chronic pain is the most treated condition in the United States, and the second most disabling condition – more than cancer and heart disease combined. Chronic pain is especially difficult to treat because patients both perceive and withstand pain differently on uniquely individual bases. The most common metric to rank pain is the Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale (the strip of faces ranging from bright smile to cringe-inducing grimace), but it is a wholly subjective expression of how the patient feels. Opioids were once seen as a panacea, but misuse, addictions and death rates now hovering at more than 115 people per day in the United States have forced attention to find a way to solve the problem. Ratcheting down opioid prescriptions may help prevent new addictions, but that has often led opioid-dependents to heroin and fentanyl as deadly alternatives. Technology has been invoked commonly in the form of video-conference counseling sessions, intended to bring needed therapists to remote areas. But, as one family told me, that may be viewed as only as a single element in what must be a comprehensive suite of deployable solutions that include near-constant contact that can enable critical intervention.

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