Editor's Note: Where We're Headed
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 30 No. 3 P. 3
It's 2060, and parents face undoubtedly the toughest decision they will ever make about their child's welfare. It requires more thought and consideration than any choice about which schools to attend or religious affiliations to follow.
Although the Mortal Measurements technology is relatively new, it's been well documented to be amazingly accurate. Not that many people are opting to use it; after all, it's frightening to know when your offspring will die.
Surely the public must have known this day was coming back in 2018 when scientists from Google developed an algorithm that could ascertain heart attack risk from a retinal scan. From there, the technology was expanded to various other chronic diseases until it evolved to the point where a precise "end" date could be established.
Pragmatic parents have found the benefits to be worth the potential pain of knowing you could live longer than the newborn who has just entered your lives. By knowing the date of death (barring unforeseen tragedy or the advent of new diseases), parents can map out a well-conceived, structured game plan to ensure their child will live life to the fullest. A go-for-broke strategy may be the choice should the results indicate the child is fated to die before reaching his or her 30s.
Of course, the technology raises a multitude of moral questions. Does the child have the right to know? Is it possible to raise children on equal terms knowing one will meet an early demise while another is slated for a long life? Do you steer your child away from long-term relationships? Under the extension of HIPAA, daughters- and sons-in-law have no rights when it comes to access to their future spouse's date of death. In fact, it's even illegal for them to know whether their in-laws opted to make use of the technology.
Needless to say, Mortal Measurements was nothing short of a political hot potato. Besides the moral hand-wringing, there were issues surrounding access and security. Those in favor of the technology were able to win out based on the development of impenetrable software born solely for the purpose of safeguarding scan results—imagine if insurance companies got their hands on the information—and the creation of a dedicated team of scientists signed to lucrative lifetime contracts who would maintain the deidentified data.
Whether Mortal Measurements grows in popularity is anyone's guess. Parents who say they plan to share the results with their children believe having such knowledge will enable them to form a bond unlike any other and help make difficult life decisions that much easier.
In the meantime, we're left wondering what's next on the health technology landscape. Have we indeed come to the end?