I’ve talked about some of the cool technologies and some of the cool services on display in Gods Tomorrow, but as we come up on the release of the sequel, Ghost Targets: Expectation, I’d really like to spend a few weeks talking about my favorite of the services:
If the name sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it, it’s a reference to an ancient Greek physician who’s considered the father of Western medicine. In the world of Hathor, Hippocrates is an always-on, always-listening medical service that exists to save your life, pure and simple.
Hippocrates starts out easily enough as the Electronic Medical Records that the Federal government is currently pushing on hospitals and clinics.
Analysts predict that electronic medical records could save the U.S. billions of dollars in health care spending, and their use has been linked to better patient care.
At the heart of it, Electronic Medical Records are a massive, persistent, monitored database. In case you missed it, that’s exactly what Hathor is. The benefits are largely the same (although with Electronic Medical Records and Hippocrates you’ve got more specializiation), and the technology is identical.
Hippocrates represents more than just EMR, though. It’s a service, and like most of the other Hathor services it provides both passive monitoring and active response to voice commands. In this case, the most important of them all is the simple keyword, “Help!”
In the world of Hathor, the word “help” is monitored by two major services: Hippocrates, and Jurisprudence (which we’ll talk about in more detail in a couple weeks). Any time anyone utters the word, both services run intensive, specialized diagnostics on the particulars of the speaker’s situation.
If there’s any indication of immediate violence or other physical danger of a criminal nature, Jurisprudence swings into gear, dispatching police to deal with the threat. If the speaker seems to be trapped, the system can send a fire truck or a locksmith (or just open a locked door) depending on the nature of the problem.
At the same time, if Hippocrates will check the speaker for any signs of physical duress or trauma. An ambulance can be dispatched immediately (and, of course, Hathor knows exactly where to send it), and the paramedics riding along can have access to a detailed, personal medical record for the patient they’re rushing to save.
And where does all that information come from? Watches. In the world of Hathor, Hippocrates designed personal medical monitors in the form of watches, and gave them away for free. In exchange, Hippocrates got access to a constant stream of individualized medical data for hundreds of millions of people.
That’s the information they used to fill the database. It’s a detailed stream of all your vitals, every moment, for years. If your heart misses a beat, Hippocrates knows. If your blood pressure spikes, Hippocrates knows. If you suffer a petit mal seizure, Hippocrates notices as it’s happening and immediately starts recording critical details during the event, for later analysis.
And all of that information becomes available to your physician. It becomes available to the paramedics rushing to the scene of your accident. It’s a service that would be awfully hard to turn down…and as soon as you’re hooked on it, you’re on the grid. Forever.
Some people get a couple chapters into Gods Tomorrow and then tell me they have a hard time believing anyone would be willing to put up with a surveillance system like this. I think about all the lifesaving services it could offer, and I have a hard time believing we haven’t already got one.