നിങ്ങള് എന്നെ ഹാക്കര് ആക്കി (You Made Me A Hacker) - The story of why a doctor codes free software in between consultations
Submitted by Akshay S Dinesh (@asdofindia) on Monday, 2 March 2020
In this talk I speak about why I am a “doctor-programmer”, and why we have to look at programming as a tool (like reading and writing) that people from very diverse backgrounds should be using to solve the challenges they face in their field of work. I talk about “appropriate technology” for our country’s healthcare needs.
People from outside traditional “programming” fields or jobs may find my experience valuable when making choices in their life.
People in traditional “programming” roles may find ways to write code that has meaning and purpose when listening to my story.
Of course, your mileage may vary. (And I do plan to talk a bit about “privilege” and how that influences mileage.)
Let’s probably start with the bold idea that programming should be a tool to change the world.
Then we can look at what kind of change we want to bring to the world.
Of course, I am the speaker. So I’ll talk about the problems I find most pressing - healthcare.
This is an interdisciplinary talk, and the core idea of the talk is that there should be a lot of interdisciplinary thinking in what we do. So I will talk a bit about what healthcare needs of our country are, what “primary health care” means in the broadest of its sense (cf. Alma Ata declaration, People’s Health Movement). I will talk about my experience working in South Karnataka in a taluq with very poor health indicators. I might choose to quote from Gandhi’s Talisman. I will talk about the products that people build in the hope of improving healthcare. If I’m feeling bad, I might talk with pessimism on how many of these products are not what “people” need. (That might digress to human-centered design.)
Someone in the audience might ask “what should we do then?”. I will probably say “I’m nobody to give answers”. I will definitely pitch a couple of things I’m doing. I will make a mention of Indic Project. Of Metastring Foundation. And various other free software projects that are working on problems that people (humans) face.
If I get to do it, I’ll make a rant on why blockchain based healthcare startups should die. I might be a bit more cautious when dissing “Aritificial Intelligence”, but I’ll definitely bring up the story of the tribals of Balle Haadi if someone presses me with AI algorithms that can detect tuberculosis in Chest X-rays.
I don’t know where exactly I should talk about privilege. I’ll probably talk about it in the beginning. I’ll list down my privilegs that I’m aware of. I think it is important that we acknowledge the role of privilege while talking about changing the world.
Those who listened carefully might figure out that I’m trying to make a point for FOSS. That FOSS is the best chance we have. I’ll take the specific examples of Electronic Medical Records. I’ll describe how we have the worst EMR systems in the world yet not a lot of people are trying to fix it because there is no money in it. The other side of that coin is that the Artificial Intelligence algorithm you were talking about 5 minutes ago need good quality data to train on. In the mad rush for profitability, nobody is building foundational technologies that are absolutely critical for the success of the newer ones.
I guess I would have made my point by then. So at this point I ask people to volunteer to build useful health related libraries and applications (AGPL, why not?) so that they can help change the world of healthcare.
Speaker needs a projector to show photos (for added effect).
Audience can interact, so wireless microphones would be useful.