#4: Memories in VR and Games as a solution for healthtech | David Wortley, VP at International Society of Digital Medicine (ISDM)

Published on January 9, 2022

In this episode, we discuss if gamification can actually influence and transform healthcare. David Wortley, the Founding Director of the Serious Games Institute, has pioneered the use of technologies such as VR, video conferencing, and wearable devices. David shares how he helps people now to save their memories with VR and how wearables make us stay healthy. Also, have you ever thought about how God is related to technologies? Enjoy the listening!

In this episode, we are talking about:

06:43 Serious Games Institute and use cases of games in healthcare

17:10 what Covid changed in our perception of technologies

23:08 the consumerization of digital technologies

25:10 sharing data - is it actually scary?

26:41 VR for mental health issues

28:29 dementia-related apps and their effectiveness

32:23 360in360 Living Memories that captures people's memories in VR

38:50 Gadgets to God

44:26 are social influencers bad for future society?

46:09 Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

50:15 opportunity to work with David


Contact David Wortley via:

email: david@davidwortley.com 

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidwortley/

360in360 Living Memories: https://www.360in360ix.co.uk/livingmemories.html


Listen to the episode on iTunesSoundCloudSpotifyYouTubeGoogle Podcasts and let us know what you think on the topic.

Ivan Dunskiy: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the HealthTech Beat podcast. The mission of our podcast is to show the real-life challenges of implementing technology in healthcare. And the podcast is sponsored by Demigos, a company that develops IT solutions for healthcare startups and companies. For more information, you can check the website demigos.com.

My name is Ivan Dunskiy, your host as always. And today I'm joined by a very special guest, David Wortley. David is a social entrepreneur with a passion for the impact of disruptive digital technologies on all aspects of business and society. Now David is the VP at International Society of Digital Medicine, but earlier he was the founding director of the Serious Games Institute (SGI) and has pioneered the use of technologies such as virtual reality, video conferencing, and wearable devices. He's also the author of the “Gadgets to God” book which charts mankind's changing relationship with technology during his lifetime. David, thank you for joining. How are you today? 

David Wortley: I'm fine, thank you. And it's my pleasure to be. Usually, I'm the host of these kinds of events. So it makes a nice change to have somebody else as the host and the moderator. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. So, could you please give a brief background for our listeners of your story in healthcare and what you currently do at the International Society of Digital Medicine? 

David Wortley: Yes, well, my background is not medical.

My background is in technology. I started off in telecommunications and electronic engineering. And I had a scholarship with what is now British Telecom and I was in management for a while. Then I got disillusioned with the promotion prospects within a public organization.

So I decided it would be nice to have my own business. So I decided that computing and telecommunications were going to converge, I had no experience of selling. So I thought the best thing to do is you got a job as a marketing executive for a large computer company. So I worked for IBM for five years, selling many mainframe computers to mainly large organizations before I got the chance to start my own business.

So my background is in technology, I've always had a passion for it. And I did not actually get involved in health care until probably around something like 2013. Even then it was one of these things in life, a combination of circumstances. I got several of my friends who were telling me I was too fat and they were worried about me.

 But the thing that actually made the difference was the fact that I did as a result of a recommendation from a friend, I did a DNA test under, originally it was because his friends thought that I had Russian blood in me. So it could trace my genetic origin. And she thought I looked, I shouldn't, that was the idea.

Anyway, I did the DNA test with 23andme.com and it came back that I was basically European from my genetic origins with no, very small chance of any Russian origins, but what he did tell me that I was, that I'd got a 50% greater chance of getting diabetes too than the general population.

 And that made me just think a little bit. And it just happened at the time that one of the first wearable devices came onto the market, the Juul bone up. So I decided to gain with my own health. And see whether I could make a difference to my health by using wearable technologies to measure my physical activity, my diet and my sleep, et cetera.

And within three months I'd lost 21 kilos. So I proved to myself that this was something that was really of value. And in that process, I improved not only my physical health by walking 10,000 steps every day but also my zest for life, my mental sharpness, and some of the key indicators of diabetes, blood, sugar levels, et cetera.

 They also all improved. So that started me on the journey. And I wrote articles about it, and I think that was the reason why the International Society of Digital Medicine invited me to that inaugural conference in 2016. That was held in Nanjing, they've had digital medicine conferences in China previously.

But this was the first time they wanted to attract an international audience. So now there's one of a couple of people from the UK invited to this opening conference. And I got to know the president, the founder and the chief executive. I explained the work that I've been doing at the Serious Games Institute.

 And they asked me if I would be interested in setting up a European chapter. And find trying to develop new members across Europe, interested and involved in digital medicine. So that's how I came to start the European chapter. And at the time I was just a member of the council, but a couple of years ago they gave me an award for distinguished service because of what I've been able to achieve. And they made me a vice president. And that was three years ago now. So I continue to promote digital medicine or digital health. And unlike you, I've been running webinars and virtual events with Special guests who have a particular interest in the use of technology for medicine and for health.

[06:43] Serious Games Institute and use cases of games in healthcare

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. Good for you, to know about the progress. Could you please give a little bit more background on what did you do the Serious Games Institute? 

David Wortley: Yeah. I was the founding director of the Serious Games Institute. And I’ve previously been working as a project manager at a university called de Montfort university in Leicester.

And my boss at the time told me about the new post at Coventry University. They were looking for somebody to set up the Serious Games Institute and make it an international center of excellence. And although I've not been involved in games, the technologies that I had been involved with we're associated with games technologies.

So I applied for it. And to be honest with you, I didn't really think I had much chance of getting the job because, as I say, I've not had any background in games. And at the age, in the time, in my middle fifties, I thought they would want somebody who was a bit younger than me to set it up. But my commercial experience and the fact that I've spoken at a lot of international conferences, I think helped to persuade them that I could establish an international reputation.

So I started that job in 2007. And over the next four or five years, I achieve what they wanted me to achieve. And the model of the Serious Games Institute has been copied in Singapore and South Africa and also the USA. Basically, it is about how you can use the technologies used in video games for serious purposes.

And a lot of that in the early days was to do with health, and medicine, particularly in the area of training. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Okay. Could you please share maybe a few of the most bright cases of the usage of games, technology in healthcare, and education?

David Wortley: Yeah, I mean, there are many, many, many different causes, but related to health, I can tell you about some of the projects that I wasn't involved in developing, but I was involved in promoting and working with the people who did develop them.

And probably one of the earliest examples, which is very innovative at the time, it was a project, designed to train paramedics, to deal with an emergency situation after an explosion in a city center. And this really had all the characteristics of Serious Games and simulations for healthcare because one of the reasons why these technologies are so important in this field is that with something like an explosion in the city center, you don't want to train people by setting off an explosion and killing peoples. You obviously can't do that. And the way that they train people to deal with these emergency situations typically is either to use dummies, money kins, or to use actors who are made up. And so, you know, they pretend to be injured in the blast or a dummy. This is used as a casual today.

And it's not really a realistic situation. So this company called Blitz Games who based in our region, they were at the time the largest independent games company in the world. And their background is in entertainment games. They were formed by a couple of twin brothers back in the 90ths.

And they mainly do that statement of games and some very big, big selling entertaining games, consoles, and arcade machines. And they set up a norm to see if they could use what they learned in the games industry to create scenarios and applied to health. 

So they did a couple of things, which even today if I showed you a video of what they did back in 2007, I think you'd be remarkably impressed because the first thing they did was to do a 3D scan of one of the graphics designers. And they use this with the game’s technology to simulate, first of all, emotions. They were able to artificially stimulate emotions that were very, very realistic in this graphic design. The application that they've developed is called Dying Dave. 

And so once they got the emotions organized, they then connected this simulation to medical data to show students what it's like to watch somebody die from a headwind in the pace of a minute. So they connected the medical data to the game’s data. And what you saw was this person's face pretty much what you see on the screen of me now that was shoulders view seem quite normal at the beginning. Then you see, he got a headwind. And then you see what happens when that person is dying.

You see the color go from them. You see the veins on the next door to pump as the body tries to pump the blood. And it's really quite, quite scary. So then, they use that information to create these scenarios, to train paramedics. They created a model of, in fact, it was the nearest town was Lemington spa.

They created a model of that, and then they created a games environment with casualties, with different kinds of injuries. And the idea was the paramedic had to go to each of the injured people and triaged them. They had to diagnose what the problem was and very quickly establish whether they needed urgent medical attention.

Whether there was no hope for them or whether they were okay to be left to deal with somebody more urgent. And so the paramedics had five or six casualties to go around and they had to perform the triage protocol, correct triage protocol to do the tests on these avatars basically. And they were evaluated on the accuracy of the triage and the time it took them to triage. And the reason why this was such a significant project as it was the very first one that was properly researched. So they have 50 paramedics who trained using the game, and they came from different sexes, different ages, different backgrounds, some familiarity with the technology.

Ivan Dunskiy: A diverse group. 

David Wortley: Very diverse group. And they compared the results in the game to the results with 50 paramedics trained using traditional techniques, mannequins mainly. And what they were able to establish was that the learning outcomes for people using the game were far more than for them.

They were significantly better. The ones trained traditionally. And the main reason behind these results was the paramedics felt much more engaged. They felt it was more like a real situation. So they were totally immersed in the game when they were playing to try and get the best kind of results. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Like more emotionally connected.

David Wortley: They were emotionally connected in ways that were not possible really with mannequins and to a lesser extent with human beings. So that was the very first one. And then following on from that, they were quite a number of other serious games, which revolved around simulations and simulations of scenarios like field hospitals, military hospitals, training people on procedures that or first responder emergency situations. That was, as I say, 2007, 2008.

So the technology was far less evolved than it is today. And today you've got much more realistic scenarios that are used and not kind of training. 

Ivan Dunskiy: I'm curious what this company does now? 

David Wortley: It doesn't exist anymore. And that is not because of their work. The company was called Truesim. The Serious Games, all with plates games was called Truesim. These games no longer exist. The two founders of the company are still involved in games. They've set up another games company, but it is more of an entertainment games, company because the problem - we were trying to build a business in Serious Games is, or there are many different problems. 

First of all, people, I don't like the phrase, serious games, because they can't see how games could be serious. So you have a problem selling the idea in the first place. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Contradicting name. 

David Wortley: Absolutely it's a contradiction in terms. And so, it's difficult to kind of get traction. And of course, in the health sector, particularly as you are probably well aware, the health sector itself is very heavily regulated. And so you have to take a lot of precautions to make sure that whatever is you are doing with people, whether it's training or providing medical treatment through digital technologies, it doesn't do any home. So this is really a legacy of the pharmaceutical industry and drug trials and all of that.

 It's a very traditional, a very long and expensive process and it's only in recent years. The agents who are particularly in the USA have now started to accept the idea of using games and other digital technologies as prescriptions and diagnostics. And so the federal drugs agency, FDA whose responsibility in the USA for approving these, is now approving these kinds of technologies for all kinds of different conditions, including mental health issues, addiction, and that kind of thing. 

[17:10] what Covid changed in our perception of technologies

Ivan Dunskiy: And do you envision that this regulation would be easier in the future and that will allow a more fast adoption of the technology in healthcare? 

David Wortley: Yeah, I think so. And I think COVID-19 has played a big part in accelerating that because if you just take as an example the development of vaccines and drug treatments for coronavirus, the urgency of the situation meant that the approval time for new vaccines or drugs had to be shortened significantly because they realize the urgency of it. So I think that's one reason. The other reason to do with COVID-19 is the fact with social isolation and social distancing, people are using webinars, zoom meetings.

And so they are a lot more open to accepting the idea of digital technologies being involved in helping with diagnostic. The area where I think there's going to be the biggest growth over the next few years is in digital therapeutics. So we moved from a situation where digital technologies will go beyond just training people and doing diagnostics to digital technologies that actually carry out treatments for people.

Ivan Dunskiy: You mean providing care, actual care. 

David Wortley: Yes. As an alternative to drugs in some cases. 

Ivan Dunskiy: And could you please elaborate on that? Like how do you see this? 

David Wortley: Well, you know, one of the biggest concerns these days with drug treatments is addiction and comorbidity. 

You know, people, I say, got older and my partner's father who recently passed away was a very good example. They're taking literally almost dozens of drugs, different drugs. And how they interact with each other is still not widely known and established. And so it really doesn't help.

So, we are now are the threshold of where we can begin to use technology to help people to manage their own personal health better. And so wearable devices which, you know, measure your physical activity and your being the technologies of a sensor, sensors are improving the communication network, with 5G is improving all the time.

And these things go together to begin to make it possible that we can not only effectively monitor what's happening with our own bodies. But we can also use that information to improve our health. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Like a feedback loop.

David Wortley: Yeah, you've got a feedback loop. You got the information that is provided to you, and the tools and gamification is a big part of this, nearly all the wearable devices that you have, use some form of gamification to help motivate people to do the right thing. As far as their health is concerned, you know, they do in different ways. You know, gamification is a much-misunderstood term, but if you look, for example, you know, I have a Fitbit that measures my physical activity or a range of other things, but the game of education, part of it is really giving you encouragement.

You know, when you've done 10,000 steps for the day, you got a little, you know, vibration on the phone, and you got messaged so: Well done. You've done your 10,000 steps. If I sit and it's probably going to happen this afternoon. If I'm sitting here talking to you for 50 minutes, 10 minutes to three o'clock in the UK, I will get a little buzz on my phone to tell me that I haven't done my 250 steps. 

Ivan Dunskiy: You haven't delivered it, yeah.

David Wortley: I haven't delivered. And the things that actually worked for me and the point is it's different for different people. But what works for me is that it's a challenge for me to be active 12 hours a day. So imagine if I do 250 steps. That's one hour, you know, I've completed the activity.

So I like to try and do 12 hours out of 12. Very, very rarely that I do less than nine hours active hours of the day because a lot of what I do is sided in front of a computer screen. But that's one thing that motivates me. And the other thing is to look at the sleep patterns of my home, right.

And I notice, and this just has an effect on me. I noticed that if I drink alcohol in the evening and it depends on what kind of alcohol I drink. But my pulse rate will go up the next day, my resting pulse rate, I guarantee, will go the next day. I mean I'm whether you call me fortunate or not, but I have a very low resting pulse rate.

 You know, when I was at university, my resting pulse rate was 42 because I was very, very fit. Today is 46. But if I have a particularly Pinot Grigio, if either a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio or in the evening, the next day, my pulse rate will be 40, not 50. I guarantee it. And then if I stop, yeah, if I have days when I don't drink alcohol, which I, most of most days I don't, but if I drink water, then my pulse rate gradually goes down again. So doing 10,000 steps every day, that's been a challenge for me. I've been doing it every day virtually for seven years. And I've missed very, very few days in that time.

[23:08] the consumerization of digital technologies

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. 

So, it happens that with that much data that this company is gathering and with gamification tools that you are providing that would increase the adoption of technology among all the people. And they will also drive the technology itself to become even more enhanced.

David Wortley: Yes. Today, they all, well, I call them the consumerization of digital technologies like wearables, the devices that started out like the Jawbone UP has no intention to make it a medical device. And even the fact that I don't think that is classified as a medical device. You have to have some rigorous tests to prove that whatever it is you're measuring is accurate to a certain standard.

[25:10] sharing data - is it actually scary?

 So if you think about how technology has advanced just in the, you know, seven or eight years that I've been using this technology. Today, literally today, earlier this morning, I got another watch, a smartwatch from China, and what it will measure and I've got to test it to test its validity. 

But it does heart rate variability, does blood pressure, it does oxygen saturation. It does a whole range of other things. It's still not classified as a medical device, but it is incredibly sophisticated. I don't know whether I can show you the display, whether you can see, see that. No, you can't see it very well, but it is about a much bigger watch. And it has an enormous amount of functionality. So I literally put it on 10 minutes before I spoke to you. So I'm going to test it out and I can compare it against the Fitbit and other proper medical devices to see the state of the artist today. I think many people are worried about wearables. And about the fact that you know, recording your health data.

Ivan Dunskiy: Sharing data.

David Wortley: And sharing data is a dangerous thing. And of course, it is, there are dangers associated with it, but I look at it like this is today when you go to a hospital or even the doctor, it's likely that you will see a doctor or a medical professional that you've never met before. It's not like when I was growing up, you had your family doctor and that's who we saw, and they knew you, they knew everything about you. So you're going to be a totally new person. 

And if you don't have any data about you, what information they have in the national health service in the UK is very limited and all today. So if you can present to them up-to-date information that gives them, you know, a better chance of diagnosing what's wrong with you. Not surely must be an advantage. And if you decide, I want to keep my data private, you run a bigger risk of them not being able to pick up, what is wrong with you and treat you properly. So, for me, it makes sense. 

[26:41] VR for mental health issues

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. The more data you have and the more consolidated data you have, like from different sources, from different states, the more insights it gives to specific specialists in healthcare. So, I'm curious to know, now mental health issue is a big issue in most of the countries in the world. So how do you see that VR technology can be applied for mental health issues? And if that gives any credit and adds any value to it? 

David Wortley: Well, yes, I think virtual reality combined, particularly with sensor technologies as got an enormous amount of potential for mental health issues. In particular, a couple I can attach. Stress management is one of the biggest growth areas in being able to deal with people who become stressed. And so in a virtual reality environment, it's like the effect that games have on people. You can become totally absorbed in the environment.

And we have many meditation apps that are available in virtual reality today. You can see a fairly quick change to a person's stress levels, through the well-designed virtual reality environments. And there's been quite a bit of research that's been done on this to indicate that it does provide positive funded benefits. So if you combine this with a kind of wearables we've just been talking about that are able to measure your pulse rate, your body temperature, skin temperature, perspiration, et cetera, you are being able to begin to start to validate some of the treatments that are available for meditation. Particularly for help with breathing properly. 

[28:29] dementia-related apps and their effectiveness

So the stress management I can guess is one of the most obvious and common areas. But even things like, not only for calming patients down who got dementia, but also being able to do some kind of brain training that helps to offset the impact of, of dementia. And I've tried out a number of different applications, which are both designed to train your short-term memory and also help with diagnosis. There are a couple of examples that are done being produced by a company called XRHealth, recently received an enormous amount of funding for development of their company, but they have some applications, on just to explain briefly two of them, that are dementia-related. One of them is to do with short-term memory. And so this virtual reality environment places you in the arrival lounge, or it's the way where you pick up the luggage at an airport when you come in and you pick up the luggage from the carousel.

And so this game places you inside this airport and you begin the game by being shown three objects that belong to you. And then, when you've had 5 or 10 seconds, all of these parameters can be varied. So as you get better at the game, they show you more objects. They show you for a less amount of time.

You've got to remember those three objects. When the game starts, things come off the carousel and you have to identify which ones are yours. So when you say something you've seen before that belongs to you, you basically click on it, to select it. And so as the game develops, the objects come up the belt faster and faster, you can tune all of these.

And so you record your short-term memory capability, how many you got right, how many you got wrong, what your memory capacity is. So, over a period of time, you can see whether you are improving or deteriorating. So that's short-term memory. One of the other aspects of dementia is reaction times. And so, the second game involves being in an affair ground.

 And you are looking at nine balls, nine colored balls, and a matrix, three by three. And your controller is a boxing glove. So, if you have a red boxing glove then, and you see a ball lighter red, you have to punch that ball. But if you've got a green boxing glove, you don't punch the red, you wait until the green one shows up.

So, it tests your reaction time and your ability to correctly identify different colors. And again, that's by the same company. But not only does it help to train you in a certain way. It also acts as a kind of diagnostic tool. So if you deteriorate, then you can pick up early signs of dementia.

So that's, you know, just a couple of examples that combined treatment and diagnosis in a game-like virtual reality environment. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. And then of course, as you said, they can apply predictive analysis, algorithms and then define at what point they expect that the state would become worse. 

 David Wortley: Yes, exactly.

[32:23] 360in360 Living Memories that captures people's memories in VR

Ivan Dunskiy: Interesting. And could you please share with us what projects you're currently working on? 

David Wortley: Well, I do a number of things. I help assess projects that are put forward for funding. And so people come up with innovative ideas and I'm one of the people who look at the proposal and decide whether it's sufficiently innovative or commercially interesting to be worth putting money into it. So that occupies some of my time. 

I also combine a number of different, interesting, something called 360in360 Living Memories. And this is really a combination of my love of people and storytelling and trying to capture people's memories, not only for themselves but also for their families in virtual reality, you know. So I had a good example of this. As I mentioned, my partner's father passed away just a few weeks ago. He was 96 years old. But he was very well-loved, he got four daughters in his family.

Fortunately, I didn't have any dementia. There's nothing wrong with his brain, but he had all kinds of other medical problems that eventually finished up, making him bedridden. He had to stay in bed. But before that time I was able to capture some video in virtual reality, capture his memories, stories about his life.

One is Paul Nutt, who was also in the nineties when she came to visit him. I got them to joke about how they met and I captured it in virtual reality in our living room. So after he's passed away, his family can still see and hear him talking about his memory. So he still lives in a virtual reality environment. 

And I've done the same with some, there was when my partner's family came over, they were his children and grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. We had a big barbecue on the patio outside, and they were talking about some of their memories. And so I had a panoramic camera, the 360-degree camera on the table. I recorded these memories so that the family after he is gone can not only hear a story, but they can be there. And I think this is important for a lot of people who want to preserve their memories for themselves and their family, the virtual reality tools and the consumer devices we have available today can help them do that.

So I created this living memories website with some case studies and examples there. So it's not just memories of a family member. I also have some heritage, memories there, so I particularly love steam trains. And so when I go on a heritage steam train or have that kind of experience, I record it in virtual reality so that other people can know what the steam trains are all about.

And then the third application area, and this is just three of many. The third one is from my days at university. I was quite a good footballer. I played part-time professional football. And when I was at university, we had the best university side they've ever had at Birmingham.

And we reached the national finals two years ago, but the captain of our team arranged a reunion, 50 years reunion. So some of my old teammates came together. And we had a great time at the university sharing stories. And so recently I did interviews like we're doing now, I've recorded and I put those in a virtual reality environment based on our university.

So you can hear the stories of your teammates or my teammates. The things that we did in those days at university are all there for future generations. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Do you believe that that would replace the photo? 

David Wortley: We could talk about this for a long time, but I think one of the problems with technology we have today is that it's so easy to do selfies, to do Instagram, to do Facebook, to do video. You are just saturated with no end of photographs and videos. And when you look at them and you think, what, when did that happen? So this is more to do with capturing the most precious times in your life. So you will be on special occasions like weddings, birthday parties, special holiday trips that mean a lot to you. And we don't realize it today. I don't think it's, you know, that it's important to use the technology in a creative way to capture the things valuable because otherwise, everything is, Facebook, Instagram, it's not like the old photo albums. I'm old enough to remember when we just had photo albums and you get them out maybe once a year or you'd find them in a drawer.

I remember that. Look at what my grandfather looks like who's dead now. And you see them and it brings back memories in your mind and emotions to associate with it. But today we just got a fantastic opportunity to go beyond that, to actually be there again and to relive what we did in those days.

So, I think it's going to be something that is not really commercially viable at the moment, but I think in the future, people will find it more and more important to be able to capture those memories. And, you know, it's lovely when my partner's family comes and visits and they put the VR headset on and they see a family memory and it brings them to tears sometimes.

[38:50] Gadgets to God

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. So, we are coming to the end of an interview, but I have one more question. Could you please tell us more about your book, “Gadgets to God”? What is it about and what is the idea behind it? 

David Wortley: Well, I thought long and hard about the name because it's not a religious book.

That was a thing that I wanted to try and get over in the title of the book, which I firmly believe. And that is that in my lifetime our relationship with technologies change fundamentally, I described them as gadgets. These are tools that we use to make life easier for us. But they weren't. No, we didn't depend on them. You know, we had a calculator to help us calculate, but they were gadgets. 

Everything was a gadget. And going back to steam trains, I always wanted to be an engine driver. And I've driven steam trains now, in my later years, including a steam train, they used to kind of pass my house when I was a young boy. I got a chance to drive, that was the first one that I drove. And I tried to explain to people that when you drive a steam train, it's like you are riding a horse. It's like a living being because every steam engine is different and you feel when you open the regulator to control the steam and the speed if you feel it.

And so it's a combination of the skill and intelligence of a human being combined with the power of a machine today. And this is where God comes in. I argue that our relationship with technology is indistinguishable from our relationship with dieting. If you think about how you perceive God as being an all-powerful, all-seeing person who knows inside your heart, he knows everything you do. He knows about you. He’s looking out for you. All religions have this kind of view of is all power will be, it's exactly the same with technology. We've got cloud computing, we've got algorithms and data analytics that know us better than we know ourselves.

And we spend more time communing with technology than we do with God. 

Ivan Dunskiy: More advanced it becomes, the more it becomes similar to God.

David Wortley: Yeah, absolutely. I don't want to get biblical in this, but if you go back to the days of the Old Testament, one of the things that made God so angry that he calls the flood and all of these statements, you know, whether you believe that's a fight or not.

The point is that he got angry because human beings were creating gods in their own likeness. And we're doing exactly the same today. We all create gods in our own likeness. We are creating artificial intelligence and machine learning which to all intents and purpose purposes is as powerful as a God.

It's making decisions and doing things with our environment and with our lives in ways that we traditionally associate with what a God would do. And I think that’s a little bit worrying that some of the developments in artificial intelligence will not be good for the future of mankind, in my opinion.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, especially taking into consideration that the more sophisticated and enhanced artificial intelligence algorithms are, the less we can control them.

David Wortley: I did an interview for Facebook recently, they commissioned a consultancy to do interview people about Facebook basically, and whether Facebook was doing a good job or not. And one of the points that came out in a conversation, I'd just like them talking to you, with the interview was the fact that when I look at Facebook, it presents to me what it thinks I'm interested in.

And the longer I look at something, then the more likely I'm going to get something else like that. And going back to the early days of Facebook, I used to get adverts on my Facebook page, which were, well, hopefully, relevant to me. I mean, I used to get adverts for knee replacements or knee surgery and breast augmentation.

Why did I do it? Did I need to open my breasts? I'm not quite sure, but today, you know, you see, it placed in front of me sometimes really quite worrying aspects, that you, if you look too long in a particular thing, then you're going to get more and more of that. And some of the things are dubious to be on Eastern. I think one of the most worrying things that I see that covers up on my video suggests women that you're encouraged to watch in case they take their clothes off.

[44:26] Are social influencers bad for future society?

That's the only way I can put it. And there seems to be a lot of women who are doing this. And I think this is a problem with social influencers. If people who become social influencers and have followers of thousands and sometimes millions of people are not necessarily, in fact, very often, not at all, the right kind of role models for the future society.

So if you go back in time into not that many years ago, you could expect what I call knowledge professionals to be respected. These are the people you went to if you wanted advice and they were your role model. So whether that was a professional football or whether it was a solicitor or a teacher, years of training that they did to get to where they were.

They respected, they really shaped the opinions. Today it's the people who are in front of your face all the time. And I'm not suggesting that Lady Gaga and some of these other personalities, but when people have millions and millions of viewers, they get asked for their opinions on things that they, I'm sorry, have no knowledge about at all. And the people who follow them, they're influenced by their views. And they're not experts, they're not knowledgeable in these areas. And I think in many ways, that's a bad thing for society. 

[46:09] Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. But now it's the time when we need to develop our critical analysis skills and I think what we are consuming in terms of data and information. So, I think we covered a lot today. Thank you for your insights. I would like to end this interview with the light exercise called Rapid Fire Round. So I will ask you several questions and you come up with an answer, whatever you like.

David Wortley: Okay. 

Ivan Dunskiy: What is your favorite book? 

David Wortley: Well, I really don't read books, to be honest with you. Not these days, but I used to read books by a guy called Clive Cussler. And these were action books, based on like a James Bond character, I suppose, called Dirk Pitt. And the thing that I liked about them was they mixed historical fact with fiction. So you might discover something in the Sahara desert, like an ancient boat, and the story revolves around large, and you got some evil people trying to take over the world, Dirk Pitt who worked for the underwater Marine agency, eventually saves the world, but I did use to enjoy that mixture of fact and fiction.

So, his books are the ones that I would take away on holiday and read. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Okay. Thank you. And what is the location that impressed you the most? 

David Wortley: Well, my favorite place in the world is Kuala Lumpur. And I did work for a few months for the University of Putra Malaysia that was based just outside Kuala Lumpur.

But that is my favorite place in all the world. And I'm fortunate enough to have been to many different places. So, there are lots of other places that come back, come a close second. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. And what is the one piece of advice that you would give to your 20 years old self?

David Wortley: Well, I got three bits of advice, really. One is to believe in yourself. You know, I wouldn't say I lack self-confidence, but when I grew up and I was shy, I didn't realize or understand quite how people saw me. And so, if I believed in myself, you know, at the age of 20, maybe my life would have taken a different course.

So believe in yourself, be true to yourself. Whatever you do, always try and stick to what you believe in and not be influenced by other people when you don't, you're not convinced by it. And the final thing is communication, communicate with human beings, be able to express your feelings.

I come from a family where I was an only child. My mum and dad loved me, but they didn't really show a lot of affection to each other. They didn't really communicate their feelings to each other. And I guess that's the one thing I would have changed about myself. It's taken me many years to learn that you do need to communicate with other human beings and to let people know how you feel about things.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, communication is 80 % of people’s success. Absolutely. Thank you. That's I think the perfect way to end today's interview. David, thank you for your time. I think that you shared a lot. It was interesting to hear your thoughts about VR technology and use cases in education as well as healthcare and in helping people with mental diseases.

Thank you for sharing your wide experience in different industries and different projects. That was really great to know more about your experience. Before we finish, what is the best way to get in touch with you? For example, if startups want To hear your, your thoughts on the pitch deck and so on, how is it better to reach you? 

David Wortley: Well, you can contact me through email. I don't mind anybody contacted through email or LinkedIn initially. As long as people don't use LinkedIn to sell me things, I'm more than because a lot of people do. But you can connect with me through LinkedIn, just for my name.

And you should be able to contact me through that. And I am more than willing to help people who are trying to get started in the business. In fact, next year, I hope to be doing some work with the University College London who was setting up a new health innovation and entrepreneurship course.

And so that's the kind of thing that I'll be helping to mentor, you know, young people wanting to do that. So always happy to do that and give your opinion. I'm not always right, but, you know, you can judge for yourself. I'm happy to share what I know with anybody. 

Who is behind the HealthTech Beat podcast

We are a team of IT professionals who like sharing technical knowledge with healthcare industry people.

At Demigos, we generate ideas on how to improve product performance, design, and positioning based on our experience building complex health tech solutions.

Check our blog with articles on the related topics, and our cases in healthtech. Also, connect the podcast host and the CEO of Demigos Ivan Dunskiy on Linkedin.