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Tech by VICE

This Time, It’s Personal

When science and technology meet health, things get interesting.

by Adrianne Jeffries
Jul 13 2015, 9:00am

Image: Cyberdyne

Technology touches everything, but it can often seem distant and lifeless. At Motherboard, we try to make every story relevant on a human level, but it's not always easy when you're writing about supersymmetry and light-based computers.

When you talk about the science and technology of health, however, suddenly it's personal. Motherboard staff writer Jason Koebler became interested in the "cure culture," the excessive focus on "curing" diseases like HIV and cancer when such cures repeatedly fall through, after his best friend died of cystic fibrosis. Freelancer writer Ross Whitaker dove into the world of prescription drug sales on the dark web after his wife's life-saving asthma inhaler ran out and they couldn't afford a replacement. Senior editor Brian Merchant swore off cigarettes and discovered the surprisingly helpful ecosystem of social networks for quitting smoking.

These stories are moving and insightful, but we've also got plenty to be excited about. The stethoscope is finally getting a makeover. We're getting closer to being able to induce human hibernation, which will make surgeries easier and safer, in addition to revolutionizing space flight. Anti-aging researchers are writing a cookbook with the best recipes for immortality.

All our stories this week show how rapidly health science and technology is moving, and at the same time, how frustratingly entrenched it can be. Kari Paul talked to nine doctors about the face-palming limitations of electronic medical records. Mahad Ibrahim writes about the clusterfuck induced when well-meaning NGOs tried to introduce digital technologies in the middle of the Ebola outbreak. And Rollin Bishop writes about the frustrations of anchoring bias, when doctors misdiagnosed his father-in-law with diabetes, leading to the amputation of a leg that could possibly have been saved.

What else? We'll also have an interview with a 22-year-old who has been taking Ambien since age 12 because she's clinically nocturnal; a tale of the loss of a glass eye and the quest to get it back; a video about testing a transcranial direct current stimulation device we bought on Reddit; and a story about DIY gynecologists.

There is too much to mention here, so we hope you'll follow this week's series, Modern Medicine, here on Motherboard. [Raise glass.] To health!

-The Editors

Modern Medicine is a series on Motherboard about how health care and medical technology can move forward so rapidly while still being stuck in the past. Follow along here.