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Das Netz – A Book On Digitalisation

Book. A new freely available German book looks at all angles of digitalization. Personalized medicine and pricing, AI and algorithms, digitalised education and fitness, open source, a monthly recap of what has happened in Germany in 2017 and a vox pop on What would you do if you were the Queen of the Internet.

How high is your risk of having a stroke or heart attack over the next 10 years on the basis of your age and blood pressure, whether you smoke and your family’s medical history?

Such predictions are getting easier for insurance companies to make with personal data at their disposal. And in Germany, the health insurance provider AOK is developing a ‘cardiovascular risk assessor,’ according to the book, Das Netz. Both AOK and the Swiss General Versicherung have already started rewarding customers with bonuses and discounts, if they can prove they have a healthy lifestyle with data gathered by an app.  Currently it is all voluntary, but it is probable that this could be turned around. German health insurers insist – according to Das Netz – that there is no disadvantage for members who decline to take part in this health monitoring. But the book chapter then states:

“Nonetheless, though it remains an open question, bigger business will probably be made with the data itself; it will provide raw material for prognosis models which calculate health risks, not only with a view to creating treatments which are appropriate for target groups, but also for the purpose of developing preventative interventions.”

This is all a part of what you can call the Pay-as-you-behave trend. It is much more widespread in the US, but it seems that Europe, and especially Germany, where insurance is private, is following suit. In Denmark you won’t see the trend yet with the health insurance, but in car insurance, you can get a huge discount, if you install a tracker in the car, so the insurance company will know whether you drove too fast or were too reckless in case of an accident.

Das Netz is highly recommendable reading, and DataEthics is also featured answering the vox pop question: If you were queen of the Internet, what would you do:

Gry Hasselbalch:
First of all, I would step down. Or at least, I would choose not to reign alone. We need all types of expertise and experiences to provide a framework that supports an ethical evolution of the internet. Currently it is primarily driven by commercial and state interests that do not necessarily put the citizen first. It needs to be redirected to human values and civil rights. We would need a type of interdisciplinary internet governance with legal, social and economic measures that fuel ethical design, organizations and business models.

Pernille Tranberg:
I would turn the digital infrastructure around 180 degrees, so everything was private by default. Private should be the standard, so every individual would be able to control their own data. They would have to opt in if they wanted something for “free”—that is, to pay with their data and accept being tracked. They would set their own privacy settings and give access to their data when they found it useful and acceptable.

Get Das Netz here as a free download