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The Measured Man

By The Atlantic

July 11, 2012

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California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) computer scientist Larry Smarr envisions the development of "a distributed planetary computer of enormous power," one that comprises 1 billion processors and that can generate a working computational simulation of each person's body, within a decade. This model will supply data that software will mine to produce guidance about diet, medication, and other individual health strategies based on real-time bodily readings.

"By 2030, there is not going to be that much more to learn [about one's body]. . . . I mean, you are going to get the wiring diagram, basically," Smarr predicts. He believes this system will allow constant monitoring of one's bodily functions and genome decryption so that incipient disease, or even the genetic tendency for disease, can be identified and addressed with designed treatments. Smarr thinks this could lead to a patient-centric, computer-assisted healthcare model in which individuals will understand their own bodies and take charge of their well-being, while physicians will simply aid them with the maintenance and fine-tuning.

A prototype system at Calit2 uses Smarr's own bodily imagery to create a navigable, high-definition simulation of his torso produced by a graphics supercomputer.

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