In my time as a journalist I’ve been to countless Start-ups all across Europe and the US and, no matter how ‘fresh’ or ‘disruptive’ or ‘innovative’ they are, they all have one thing in common. They all look like a toddler’s day centre.
Anton, the CTO leads me through the white walled offices to a meeting room and my heart sinks when I see that the seating is beanbags. I fucking hate beanbags ever since I threw a vertebral disc covering the riots of ’20 and if I sit in one I’m going to need a forklift to get me back out. I think I’m going to have to rely on Judith for assistance later. If I can get her to stop staring at the back of Anton’s head like she thinks it’ll explode.
Anton fiddles with his watch and a projector screen descends from the ceiling in front of me and the usual corporate branded background fills the screen. In a stunning lack or originality it’s a navy blue with a single white wavy line going from left to right. In the lower right corner it announces that ‘Keywave Diagnostics works closely with the NHS’.
Well, of course they do – they get to stick the NHS logo on things, get access to NHS data and then, when things go wrong, slink off and blame any problems on the NHS proper.
I need some coffee.
“By utilising the delays evident in peri-clubbed individuals typing patterns we can make an accurate diagnosis on those who will show symptoms within the next 12 months”, and at this Aton presses his watch face and a slide appears with graphs and numbers and ‘milliseconds’ dotted around it.
I take a look, Aton keeps talking and keeps flashing up slides of people typing at keyboards and pretty looking graphs. My eyes unfocused when he starts listing healthcare stakeholders being consulted on the blah de blah de blah.
It comes down to this. If you have people who are used to typing, like most of us are, even if only on a touchscreen, then you can analyse how they type -their speed, their accuracy, how long between keystrokes. Keywave’s contention is that people who are soon going to be showing symptoms of CLBD-7 have a marked change in they typing habits. For example, the little finger gets left behind sometimes in people who have CLBD-7 but are not showing the more obvious signs. (he went on for some time about why we evolved a little finger – good for hooking things apparently) What this means is that they are far more likely to type a double capital letter, as the slow little finger gets left on the shift key. So they are more likely to type ‘THe cat sat on the mat.’. Likewise the time it takes them to hit individual keys gets ‘slurred’, instead of a constant tap-tap-tap, they instead type in bursts, taptaptap…taptap…taptaptap.
It’s all fascinating stuff, but I ask what the benefit of this is, there is no treatment and so early diagnosis runs roughshod over the whole ‘ignorance is bliss’ aspect of life. Knowing that you have CLBD-7 is pointless without a treatment, and we don’t have a treatment.
Aton looks sheepish and it’s only after some pushing that he’ll admit that the date is also useful to ‘selected third parties’, which to my mind means ‘health insurance companies’.
It’s only after we leave that Judith suggests something more sinister – if the information is shared with the government and NHS in general, they can use that when modelling health rationing. Why fix a patient’s dodgy knee if they are going to be a gibbering wreck in a year’s time?