Google is a fascinating company- search, advertising and everything else rolled into one. As it dominates certain digital aspects of our lives, news about “Project Nightingale” needs to be taken with a handful of salt. I’d attempt to deconstruct the story based on what I have read/known or what else is perceived. But first, the Wall Street Journal, owned by Murdoch, has opened up an antitrust complaint in Australia (it’s backyard). Murdoch’s web properties are also known to harbour extreme animosity towards Google because it’s web properties don’t glean the same degree of insight as Google does. If we see the “report” from this perspective, it becomes easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Google Cloud President Tariq Shaukat said the company’s goal for health care is centered on “ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives.”
Google’s cloud business is trailing. It was never perceived as “enterprise-friendly”. It’s Amazon that’s clearly the dominant player (despite its recent problems with Pentagon. Therefore, Google’s desperate to show some value for its business.
Eduardo Conrado, an executive vice president at Ascension, said: “As the health-care environment continues to rapidly evolve, we must transform to better meet the needs and expectations of those we serve as well as our own caregivers and health-care providers.”
No comment on how the existing healthcare delivery will be “enhanced”. They have been stupid to decentralise everything and suddenly realised that they need a “central console”.
Google and nonprofit Ascension have parallel financial motives. Google has assigned dozens of engineers to Project Nightingale so far without charging for the work because it hopes to use the framework to sell similar products to other health systems. Its end goal is to create an omnibus search tool to aggregate disparate patient data and host it all in one place, documents show.
There have been enough instances where it has been conclusively shown that “anonymous data” can easily be “deanonymised”. It means that despite claims of “differential privacy” (as pushed by Apple), it is all hogwash. Unknown to most users, you are just a digital stamp. Google monetises this digital stamp. I firmly believe that this system will only benefit the third party insurance companies because currently, they have no system in place to intrude deeper into healthcare beneficiaries or cross-sell them with higher insurance premiums. It is also because they wish to underwrite their vast risks associated with moral hazard. Insurance denials are other potential issues (especially as Google really knows what you are looking for in real-time).
The project is being developed under Google’s cloud division, which trails rivals like Amazon and Microsoft in market share. Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has said repeatedly this year that finding new areas of growth for cloud is a priority.
Google also has another project called as “Verily” which aims for several moonshots; primarily related to healthcare. Their association with NHS in the UK was under a cloud, and they folded everything under “Google Brain”. Google’s under no compulsion to reveal the “numbers”.
Last year, the Journal reported that Google opted not to disclose to users a flaw that exposed hundreds of thousands of birth dates, contact information and other personal data of subscribers in its now-defunct social-networking website Google Plus, in part because of fears that the incident could trigger regulatory scrutiny.
Google’s escaped this furore as well.
A look into how this project is going to pan out: