But there are reasons to worry about the idea of creating malicious software. It’s not just that it might be hard to tell your disease-tracking program from the hypothetical virus. There are also other, more subtle problems with this kind of digital medicine.
Medical researchers have studied these issues for years, but they haven’t made much progress. Medicine has always been a kind of information technology. Your doctor accesses your medical history through documents like your medical records and your insurance claims; diagnoses you through conversations and physical exams; and prescribes drugs that are created through chemical reactions which in turn depend on information about the molecular structure of compounds.
If doctors were mostly replacing their paper charts with electronic ones, this wouldn’t be a problem. But electronic record-keeping is only the latest in track a cell phone number location for free online long series of technologies for storing knowledge digitally, each one building incrementally on top of the last. And each time, the new technology opens up new ways to use information to manipulate people, whether by advertising to them or by monitoring their behavior for marketing purposes or by collecting data which can then be analyzed in powerful ways by companies or governments.