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healthcare

Behavioral variables and nanobots in healthcare

Big data and machine learning platforms are in a unique position to analyze one of the most challenging aspects of medical research: behavioral variables that are not reported accurately by common assessment methods. While EMRs (electronic medical records) prompt healthcare providers to collect a great deal of subjective information that impacts healthcare, such as compliance with medication regimes or alcohol intake, the validity of the information collected is questionable.

The subjective nature of the reasons people conceal or alter information given to a health care provider are as complicated at the whole of the human population. People feel social pressures to conform and please a questioner. They don’t want to admit to money problems that impact health care. They do not accurately see their own behavior. Cultural norms regarding personal information vary widely, as does disclosure by age and gender and social class. But new methods of gathering and quantifying data across populations has the potential to give greater insights into human behavior that can change the results of medical research.

Relying solely on patient reports of behavior is a method of gathering data that is extremely limited and may significantly impact the results of healthcare research. But gathering self reports, along with subjective research reports, pharmacy records, laboratory test results, social media, buying behavior, financial records, employment records, and other sources of data, and then analyzing across populations, can give a more accurate picture of what people are actually doing. By having a more accurate picture of human behavioral variables, healthcare research can more accurately assess the impact of human behavior on health care outcomes, and propose treatment modalities that are fine-tuned to the people we actually are. Continue reading

stratecta

Gender Identity for AI

Artificial neural networks have given AIs the functionality for complex problem solving and pattern recognition, and they have entered the workforce, particularly in areas of big data analysis and global finance. As we begin to interact with and study these new learning machines, interesting questions arise. Are they going to take on human behavioral and gender distinctions (gender identity), because they have been programmed with data sets that have unconscious bias? Will those who are giving the learning machines feedback to focus their problem solving allow behavioral constraints into the teaching? If we give the AIs a woman’s voice, and a woman’s name, will we interact with her as if she was a woman? And does that mean she will in turn internalize those social expectations and become more female?

Naturally we are interested in all things having to do with gender. It is the first sentence the world places upon us, when the midwife announces boy or girl. We love gender. We give our teddy bears genders, and can describe in detail why we think-no, why we know that our little darling is a boy or girl. We give our cars genders, names, and personalities. It’s just because we’re human, and we want to humanize the things we love, and that surround us. And part of humanizing inanimate objects is to give them a name, a gender, and shower them with affection.

Part of our fascination with gender has led to some poor science, the popularity of which has trickled down into our collective consciousness. The idea that male brains and female brains are different in a significant way is probably not true, though the debate rages. Structure follows function, and hormones affect the developing brain. But even with minor structural and functional differences in the brains that are most probably hormonally-based, there is very little difference in boys and girl’s brains. There is a much wider variance between individuals than can be measured than between generalized groups based just on gender. We are more complicated than can be described in pop-science about hardwired aggression and nurture vs nature.

What is different between genders is communication, how we use language, and there the gender differences are significant enough to be measured. If we think of communication as the way we input data into our brains, we grow our biological neural networks with the complex range of human communication to which we’re exposed. And there are differences between male and female communication.

So with the science showing that biological neural networks- aka human brains- are more complex than can be measured, but are influenced by hormones, language, biology, and the wide range of human culture, we are left to consider if artificial neural networks will also be influenced by language and human culture. (This is assuming that the artificial neural networks that are biology and hormonally mediated are still a few years in the future.) Continue reading

stratecta

How to increase employee engagement

Successful businesses tend to share similar values that boost their employee engagement. A loyal, dedicated, and energized staff, working toward a common goal, is the gold standard for a happy and engaged workforce. Across size, industry, market share, intellectual property, and other economic variables, employee engagement stands out as the hallmark of a successful company. What does the engaged workforce value in their employers? Diversity and inclusion, social and environmental stewardship, and transparency in company values and practices.

In a just society, the workforce should reflect the population. In universities, high tech startups, factories, farms, the workforce should reflect the color, age, and gender of the population. If this criteria is used to judge, there is not a just society on this earth. Education influences career, and gender, age, and color effects access to education. How can business step beyond the way things have always been, into the world of the future, where everyone will have equal access to education and economic opportunity? A world in which we have access to our full human potential?

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is a company value that is appealing to workers across ages and socioeconomic strata. Efforts to recruit and hire a qualified and diverse workforce are aided by programs such as Textio, the AI system that evaluates job descriptions for language that discourages diverse applicants. Blendoor is a merit based recruiting app that removes pictures and names from applicants CVs, so issues of color, appearance, and gender are more neutral in the application and recruiting process. But companies that engage these types of programs have already taken the first big leap–understanding and acknowledging that unconscious bias is present in most humans, and efforts must be taken and progress regularly evaluated to make sure that unconscious bias is not keeping businesses from recruiting and hiring the most qualified workforce. Continue reading

win the crown

5 Techniques to Help Dealership Staff Improve Cyber-Security (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on how to help your dealership staff become an important part of the cyber-security effort. They are responsible for handling reams of customer personal information and protecting the financial interests of every client who comes through your doors. This means keeping account information safe, even from people who claim to be the friends and family of your customers. Last time we talked about line of sight on staff computer screens and the reasons why personal data is so vital to protect. Let’s pick up on access to employee computers.

3) No Customer Access to Employee Computers

There are two kinds of computers in a dealership, those set aside for customers to manage their finances and buy insurance on, and those that employees use to sell cars and manage customer accounts. If it can possibly be helped, do not let customers use employee computers. These have software, data access, and possibly saved log-in information that could give customers access to information and actions they should not have.

Worse than accidentally letting a customer access your control software is the fact that not all hackers live in Russia. There are plenty right here in the states and they will absolutely take an opportunity to ‘phish themselves’ on your machine, quickly pop in a malware-riddled USB device, or find a way to email themselves data on your system. If a customer is allowed to use an employee computer, watch them very closely and do not, under any circumstances, allow outside data devices to be plugged into a dealership computer.

4) Never Open Email Attachments

Speaking of phishing, the current leading form of hacking and social engineering all tied into one. Phishing occurs when a hacker sends a false email with an infected attachment. The email either appears to be from a friend or coworker or it can pose as a message from a concerned “customer”. There are many different phishing strategies ranging from convincing the victim that the attachment is an important work document to thinking it’s a funny cat picture. The only thing in common is that the hacker must convince a staff member to click their infected link in order to spread the malware. Continue reading

onboarding

10 Essential Onboarding Topics for New Employees (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on how to cover absolutely everything you need in a single onboarding lesson plan. Last time we talked about the first half of this process including giving a little background on the company, handling the HR paperwork, and clearing up questions about time off and benefits. Today, let’s pick up at compliance, an undeniably important topic that should not be left until later.

6: Policy and Compliance

Companies are complex and their policies reflect that. While you can’t expect your trainees to memorize every policy, give them the list and highlight everything that has daily significance. Conduct expectations, travel procedures, expense reporting, and workstation upkeep are all good focus topics for the policy section. Compliance, on the other hand, are things that are absolutely necessary for the smooth legal functioning of your company. Rules about how to deal with clients, health considerations, and maintenance procedures for things like heavy machinery or perishable goods can help your trainees avoid critical mistakes down the line.

7: Safety and Security

From thievery to ransomware, no company can do without a thorough security system but the actual measures in place will depend on your industry, facilities, and company culture. New trainees need the full rundown on building keys, ID keycards, workstation logins and security measures, how to maintain client information security, and parking policies. By thoroughly covering how to enter and exit the building, you can reduce the number of instances a new hire accidentally locks themselves out and has to be retrieved from the roof, parking lot, or locking supply closet. Continue reading

onboarding

10 Essential Onboarding Topics for New Employees (Part 1)

You’ve gone through the process of finding a batch of great new hires, chosen carefully from dozens of applicants and considered prospects. No doubt, your business runs like a finely tuned machine and each of your employees is a skilled operator. Your new recruits have all proven that their personalities and skills will fit well into your company structure but they don’t start on day one knowing all of your intricate internal procedures. That’s what orientation training is for. Of course, you want the most helpful and efficient coursework possible. Structuring your training program with these ten essential topics will make sure that you have all your bases covered and the new team members are ready to start their work tasks by the end of the orientation sessions.

1: Welcome

Show your new employees how happy you are to have them, then introduce them to the company, buildings, and their new jobs. A quick tour around the office or facilities can help them get that movie-opening impression of how things work and where everything is. This is a great time to show them their new assigned workspaces and answer initial questions.

2: Company History and Culture

Tours can be exciting and difficult to listen through, so don’t start the real content until you’ve settled back into the orientation space, then dive straight in with the company history. Many companies have an interesting or unique founding history that will engage new hires and help them grasp the company philosophies from the root. From here, you can segue smoothly into company culture, making it clear the kinds of shared attitudes and break room behaviors that are supported. If you have company sports teams, group outings, or favorite catering days, now is the time to share them.

3: New Hire Paperwork

One of the primary reasons to gather and do orientation together is to fill out the new hire paperwork completely and accurately. Normally this doesn’t take very long, but tends to occupy everyone’s attention for a few minutes as they write in personal details and double-check legibility. Make sure to collect the forms promptly to avoid any possible risk of loss or coffee stains. Continue reading