People often do not get why I am so convinced that only GPL Software should be used in Medicine. I can understand why. Without understanding the nature of Healthcare, people assume that I am being religious about the issue. This is the furthest thing from the truth.
It has been a while since I have blogged over at GPLMedicine.org. In fact you can see that I still have some site maintenance to do. But recently more attention has been given to the issue of Open Source and Software Freedom in medicine.
The Software Freedom Law Center has just released a paper called Killed by Code: Software Transparency in Implantable Medical Devices
Awesome title. Even more awesome paper.
The form of the argument is so simple:
- Hey you are putting hardware AND software in my body? yep.
- I cannot look at the software? nope.
- And the software is hackable? yep.
- Well that kinda sucks.
Feels kinda icky don’t it?
One thing I love about people with pacemakers or other implantable medical devices, is that they know they are cyborgs. Most people living in modern countries are cyborgs, but unlike people with pacemakers, they do not see it that way, because they carry their electronics, rather than implanting them. Makes no difference. In fact lets play a variant of “You might be a redneck“: I call it “You might be a cyborg..”;
- If you leave your cell phone at home, and you -must- to leave work to go home and get it, you might be a cyborg.
- If you will sleep through the morning unless a machine wakes you up, you might be a cyborg.
- If your spouse is jealous of your cell phone, tablet, laptop, server or workstation, you might be a cyborg
- If not wearing a watch makes you uneasy, you might be a cyborg
- If you view any relationship you have with an online service as an addiction, you might be a cyborg
- If you try to avoid walking more than 100ft in favor of a segway, bicycle, golf cart, or automobile, you might be a cyborg
- If you try to avoid walking more than 100ft in favor of a lawn mower, you might be a cyborg and a redneck
Our relationship with technology is becoming more and more personal, and the operating system to your mobile phone, the software your medical devices uses and the EHR system that your doctor uses to track your health information make software freedom ethical issues into personal freedom ethical issues.
Today, its people with pacemakers, but tomorrow, there will things that people consider normal to do with their own bodies that will either use software that the user controls, or software that some random company controls.
Thanks to the Software Freedom Law Center, for helping to make this issue more personal.