OK, I am totally unqualified to write this post other than having faith that solutions for entrenched issues can come from the oddest sources. And, after spending 30 years as a frequent subcontractor to medical device manufacturers, I am aware that the likelihood of medical breakthrough is painfully (but appropriately) throttled by the mainstream approval process. Medical research is kept safe and slow by appropriate controls and the high cost of effective research. This hampers crowd sourcing, garage shops, and skunk works... some of the coolest building blocks of nerds. Most of us nerds want to help and – at the same time – do no harm.My off the wall suggestions:
- Redefine the problem so nerds outside of the medical industry can contribute.
- Go outside the (medical) box for solutions and tools. Include some of the incredibly high resolution, big data solutions, and Military solutions that work well.
- Crowd source ideas as building blocks. Share, share, share... and see what happens.
This might work by creating a “bazaar” level grass roots effort – almost an X prize – to encourage unorthodox ideas towards a solution; a collaborative, open-field look at the problem.
For breast cancer, a mammogram is still – despite decades of use – an imperfect tool. In other branches of technology there are ways to find material anomalies via sonar, radar, electrical conduction, mass analysis, and other. There are analytical tools that can find an oil deposit in a mile of shale. Why not consider the possible medical applications of these technologies? Can a non-medical technology be used to find a lump in a breast and then tell if that lump is of concern or not?A possible process:
- Get the medical pros to define the problem. The nerd community needs to know the specs of what is being looked for. Contribute all the mass, electrical and other characteristic data to the public, for the public good. Define goals in terms of allowable true and false, negative and positive diagnoses.
- Get donations from tool makers (Impulse is “in” if this takes off) to offset some of the challenges. Impulse works regularly in processing resolutions and data rates difficult to achieve by other methods. We’ll donate licenses if the rest of the companies join in.
- Have an academic group judge, re-define, publish and otherwise be the janitors of the bazaar. Don’t interfere or create bottlenecks. Just fix stuff and get out of the way. Publish on a Wiki, as close to real time as possible. Assume that most ideas are false starts towards something useful. Note: Impulse is regularly approached by thoughtful professors seeking thesis topics that actually pertain to business. Students prefer to work on something pertinent.
- Attract some heavy hitters when it comes time to commercialize and FDA-ize the results. Being a vain American, I’m hoping we lead, but I’m more of a fan of women than country borders so I’m voting first for a cure. This will be a lucrative solution if it works. Other countries are not constrained by our medical technology safeties. If they reach it first and patent it, the window for a US based growth area is reduced.
What’s to lose? It may be a “million monkey” type of solution, but where’s the harm in opening up the dialog to unorthodox sources of innovation?
Comments? If there is enough interest in this (via comments), I will take it upon myself to progress things to the next level.
 Presenting an idea to communities, e.g. via Kickstarter, to see if there are others of common mind that will help through collaboration or funding.
 E.g. Jobs and Wozniak building the original Apple in their garage.
 Referring to the “good old days” when corporations quietly enabled engineers to create something unorthodox without official sanction.
 Google “the Cathedral vs. the Bazaar” wherein the latter decentralizes the creative effort and encourages sharing. Linux is a stellar example of the latter.
 One explanation of infinity is that if an infinite number of monkeys sit at infinite typewriters, one will write all of Shakespeare’s work on the first go.
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