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When nudge turns into Big Brother

· Big Data Zone

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It seems inevitable that the coming years will see an explosion in the amount of data we produce about our health.  It seems equally inevitable that this will generate a huge amount of discussion over how this will be used.

There are lots of practical examples of how, for instance, technology like IBM’s Watson can be deployed to make sense of the vast amount of data generated by wearable devices to provide a kind of early warning system for our bodies.

Such suggestions have however generated a lot of concern about the privacy rights of the patient, and just how secure this data (our data) will ultimately be.

I can imagine therefore that public opinion around the Luce X2 Touch TV vending machine will be mixed at best.

You see, it uses facial recognition software to determine who we are, and then cross references that against the medical data it holds on us, before then informing us whether we can buy that chocolate bar or not.

The machine is an Italian invention but was recently launched in Britain.  It features a large touchscreen display that allows the user to choose the item they wish to buy, just as you would with a normal vending machine.

This is where things get interesting however, as the machine then scans your face, with the technology assessing the age, build and mood of the customer before then releasing the product.

That’s not all however.  The device can also be programmed to access the medical records of the consumer, and also their previous purchase history.  If the machine then comes to the conclusion that another Mars bar isn’t the best dietary choice for you, it can refrain from selling it to you.

Is it a helpful nudge towards a healthier lifestyle or the kind of big brother like intrusion into our choices that so many privacy campaigners are concerned about?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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