Alex Cahana – Baby Boomers, Blockchain and Beyond: How Web 3.0 Technologies Improve Health

EPISODE 158

Baby boomers have always been known for their innovative thinking and for being on the forefront of new technologies. Now, as they enter retirement, baby boomers are once again at the forefront of innovation, this time in the form of Metaverse, Blockchain, and Web 3.0 technologies. While these new technologies offer a world of potential, they also come with a unique set of challenges.

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to use new technologies to their advantage. Many baby boomers grew up in a time when everything was done offline, so adapting to a world where everything is online can be difficult.

They also worry about online safety. Also, baby boomers must navigate a complex financial landscape where it can be hard to determine if assets are worth acquiring. Finally, baby boomers must learn how to use these technologies in conjunction with each other.

There are also numerous opportunities. As baby boomers age, the healthcare industry is preparing for an influx of patients. Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize how healthcare is delivered. It can be used to keep track of patient outcomes and medication regimens. This is very important for baby boomers, who are more likely to take multiple medications and visit multiple specialists. 

Blockchain technology POTENTIALLY would allow doctors and nurses to quickly find and fix problems in the care process. Blockchain could be used to verify the identities of patients and providers, ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information.

For baby boomers, dealing with healthcare costs and payments can be a real hassle. You’re on a fixed income, and every time you go to the doctor or get a prescription, it feels like there’s another bill to pay. Fortunately, blockchain technology is beginning to change all that. With blockchain, payments can be made more efficiently and securely, without all the paperwork and hassle.

These technologies offer a level of security and transparency that is incredibly important for older adults who are handling their finances for the first time. With blockchain, baby boomers can track their money and make sure that they are getting the best deals possible. And with tokens, they can access a wide range of financial services that can help them to manage their money more effectively. As a result, blockchain and tokens are becoming increasingly popular with baby boomers who want to take control of their financial future.

By harnessing the power of blockchain, we can ensure that baby boomers receive the best possible care.
———-

Bio:

Joining me today is Dr. Alex Cahana, MD, a physician with over 25 years of clinical experience. Specializing in Web 3.0 transformation and EMDEs (emerging markets and developing economies), he is a founding partner at ImpactRooms, an advisor to XRSI, and a venture partner at Global Blockchain Ventures, Limitless Ventures, and Aquarium Ventures.

He believes that citizens should be transformed from health service consumers into health and wealth producers. With this goal in mind, he spends his time consulting for various organizations around the world on how to harness the power of new technologies like blockchain to improve healthcare delivery.

Find Dr. Cahana on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-alex-cahana-health-blockchanger/

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Hanh Brown

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Hanh Brown / Dr. Alex Cahana, MD

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Episode Transcript

EPISODE 158

[0:01:26]
Hanh Brown: Hi, I’m Hanh Brown, the host of the Boomer Living broadcast, “Boomer Living: We Understand That The Needs Of Seniors Are Continually Changing. That’s Why We Offer A Wide Range of Resources to Help Baby Boomers Live Their Best Lives, Whether You’re Looking For Information”.

[0:01:44]
Hanh Brown: We offer details on senior healthcare, dementia, Parkinson’s care, caregiving, technology adoption, affordable senior living options.

[0:01:52]
Hanh Brown: Or dealing with financial insecurity, we got you covered.

[0:01:55]
Hanh Brown: Our goal is to provide practical information and support to help you navigate this new phase of life.

[0:02:02]
Hanh Brown: So, hello, everyone, and thank you so much for joining us, we’re excited that you’re here and I want to encourage everyone to participate so please chime in and let us know what’s on your mind.

[0:02:15]
Hanh Brown: So today’s topic is baby boomer, blockchain and the web.

[0:02:20]
Hanh Brown: How web three point O technologies improve health. Baby boomers have always been known for their innovative thinking and for being at the forefront of new technologies.

[0:02:31]
Hanh Brown: Now, as they enter retirement, baby boomers are once again at the forefront of innovation, this time in the form of metaverse, blockchain and web three point o technologies.

[0:02:45]
Hanh Brown: While these new technologies offer a world of potential, they also come with a unique set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to use technology to their advantage. Many baby boomers grew up in a time when everything was done offline, so adapting to a world where everything is online can be difficult.

[0:03:06]
Hanh Brown: They also worry about online safety. Also, baby boomers must navigate the complex financial landscape where it can be hard to determine if assets are worth acquiring. Finally, baby boomers must learn how to use these technologies in conjunction with each other.

[0:03:26]
Hanh Brown: Well, there are also numerous opportunities. As baby boomers age, the healthcare industry is preparing for an influx of patients.

[0:03:35]
Hanh Brown: Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize how healthcare is delivered.

[0:03:40]
Hanh Brown: It can be used to keep track of patient outcomes and medication regimens. This is very important for baby boomers who are more likely to take multiple medications and visit multiple specialists. Blockchain technology potentially would allow doctors and nurses to quickly find and fix problems in the care process.

[0:04:01]
Hanh Brown: Blockchain could be used to verify the identity of patients and providers, ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information. For baby boomers dealing with healthcare costs and payments, which can be a real hassle.

[0:04:17]
Hanh Brown: When you’re on a fixed income and every time you go to a doctor or get a prescription, it feels like there’s another bill to pay. Well, fortunately, blockchain technology is going to change all that. With blockchain, payments can be made more efficiently and securely without all the paperwork and hassle.

[0:04:36]
Hanh Brown: These technologies offer a level of security and transparency that is incredibly important for older adults who are handling their finances for the first time. With blockchain, baby boomers can track their money and make sure that they

 are getting the best deals possible and with tokens, they can access a wide range of financial services.

[0:04:57]
Hanh Brown: Services that can help them manage their money more effectively. As you can see, blockchain and tokens are becoming increasingly popular for baby boomers who want to take control of their financial future.

[0:05:08]
Hanh Brown: And by harnessing the power of blockchain, we can ensure that baby boomers receive the best possible care.

[0:05:15]
Hanh Brown: So joining me today is Dr. Alex Cahana. He’s a physician with over twenty-five years of clinical experience, specializing in Web 2.0 transformation in emerging markets and developing economies. He’s a founding partner and impactor in various firms, an advisor to the XRSA and venture partner in several Blockchain Ventures. 

[0:05:35]
Hanh Brown: With Limitless Ventures, and Aquarium Ventures, he believes that citizens should be transformed from healthcare or health service consumers into health and wealth producers. With this goal in mind, he spends his time consulting for various organizations around the world on how to harness the power of technologies like Blockchain to improve healthcare delivery. So, Dr. Alex, welcome to the show.

[0:06:08]
Alex Cahana: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[0:06:11]
Hanh Brown: Well, thank you. How are you doing?

Alex Cahana: Very well, and thank you for the kind introduction. 

Hanh Brown: So, where are you calling from?

Alex Cahana: I’m calling from Manhattan.

[0:06:22]
Hanh Brown: Okay, good. So, tell us a little bit about who Dr. Alex is personally and professionally.

[0:06:31]
Alex Cahana: Oh, I think we could use the whole hour for that. But, I would say, I’ve always been interested in technology and degrees. 

[0:06:41]
Alex Cahana: I’ve been a physician for over twenty-five years, I’ve built multiple prints in Brazil, the US, and Japan, and Switzerland, and it’s safe to say that I’ve seen different healthcare systems and global health. 

[0:07:01]
Alex Cahana: Now, I’m a very high touch, hi-tech individual. Down to where I got bit by the blockchain bug, I’d say, in 2013. I said, “Wow, I really don’t understand this,” and so I dived into it. I think it took me two and a half years to really wrap my head around it and after that, I started to write about it, created a voice and since then it’s been a great experience.

[0:07:34]
Hanh Brown: Well, thank you so much for this opportunity to learn from you and, well, you know, from a physician and from a technologist and from a baby boomer, right?

Alex Cahana: Absolutely, yeah.

[0:07:54]
Hanh Brown: So, Webster’s dictionary defines Web three point O as a new stage of the world wide web in which users can interact with intelligence agency obtain customized information. So what do you think of that? What does that mean to you? What is Web three point O to you?

[0:08:13]
Alex Cahana: I always had trouble with dictionaries that are more into description, than actual explanation. I like to think about the different numbers as describing the proximity to the web. 

[0:08:24]
Alex Cahana: So in Web One, which is when it started in the nineties, I would just look at it. There was not a lot of interaction. With Web Two, which is what we’re living right now, there’s some interaction. I’m interacting with a digital, but the problem is that I don’t own any of it. The platforms own everything, they control everything, they profit from it. So, Web Three is that interaction, but with ownership.

[0:09:04]
Alex Cahana: I start to own part of that interim, and so it’s not hard to understand that Web 4.0 would be almost like I’m in the internet with all these immersive technologies that are out there. And maybe Web 5.0 is where I am the Internet. 

[0:09:24]
Alex Cahana: So, that’s the conversion between the physical and digital and what we now call bridging between the physical and digital.

[0:09:37]
Hanh Brown: All right. So, Metaverse is often described as virtual reality where users can create their own world and experiences. Do you think that will ever become a reality?

[0:09:53]
Alex Cahana: Well, it’s almost like a philosophical question. What is reality? I can definitely say is that this has been going on for a while. I remember as a physician I had a patient, think twenty years back, a carpenter, whose hand was cut off and they had phantom pain, which is the pain in that part of a body that you don’t have. 

[0:10:13]
Alex Cahana: So, the point wasn’t there, but the pain was real. And the patient described how it hurt, shocked like a nail was piercing the palm of his hand. So, I created a box with a mirror and asked them to open the hand and they would open it, pull the nail out, and they felt better. 

[0:10:41]
Alex Cahana: So, in that sense, the brain doesn’t really need a body to feel. No more than we need a world to experience. So, I think that it’s there. We already are living in a reality. Now whether it is a reality like when we see movies like the Matrix, are we a simulation? You hear Musk talk a lot about it, that’s more philosophical.

[0:11:02]
Alex Cahana: But definitely, I like to think of it as the extended mind. Our mind is not constrained or tied to our brain but extends with the digital artifacts.

[0:11:15]
Hanh Brown: And that’s true. Well, you know, with virtual reality, you’re the architect of your own universe. You create new worlds, or revisit old ones with infinite possibilities. But at the end of the day, you still come back to reality, to shower, sleep, and among other things, right?

Alex Cahana: Yes, that’s right.

[0:11:37]
Hanh Brown: It’s an exciting time.

Alex Cahana: It is, yeah. I would say there are two worlds when we talk about reality. There is an observer-independent reality. I look outside and I see a tree. Most people will look at it and they will see the same tree, and so those are facts we call objective because we’re seeing that object and we all agree upon.

[0:12:10]
Alex Cahana: But then, of course, there’s an inner world that is very, very personal and very rich, and it is observer independent. Unfortunately, I think we neglect it, we don’t pay attention. All subjective, it’s not important, who cares what you think. And I actually think that both realities are important. 

[0:12:31]
Alex Cahana: In a sense, we’re living the age of VR, the age of introspection. We’re living the age of inside where things matter, not because they have value, but because they have a meaning to us. So, it’s a fascinating time where we will not just discover new territory but rediscover who we are.

[0:12:55]
Hanh Brown: Yes. Indeed. This is definitely a great starting point to delve deeper into the implications of these emerging technologies on seniors, their health, and overall quality of life. 

[0:13:02]
Hanh Brown: You think, you know, some people believe that the rise of artificial intelligence may bring about the end of the world. What do you think, is there any validity to this claim?

[0:13:16]
Alex Cahana: You know, I always tell people, and those listening have probably heard me say this, I’m more worried about natural stupidity than artificial intelligence. I think that artificial intelligence is something we don’t fully understand, which can cause fear. 

[0:13:36]
Alex Cahana: But when you start to really dive into it and understand the different flavors of artificial intelligence, you don’t think about what we see in Hollywood or documentaries, but rather grasp the role of this technology. I’m actually optimistic. I believe it can help us create, or be part of, this democratization of knowledge, giving access to knowledge for people who don’t have that access. It can level the playing field regardless of geography, generation, gender, or financial background. It’s like a portal into a world that they seek to invest in.

[0:14:27]
Hanh Brown: Very true. An AI system is just a tool. It can be used to develop more effective weapons, or it could be used to target ads and other content in a way that promotes division or hatred. Again, it’s a tool. It’s inherently not good or evil, it’s up to us and how we want to use it.

[0:14:47]
Alex Cahana: I absolutely agree. Many times, I say that technology does nothing, it’s what people do with the technology. Remember when Microsoft used AI on Twitter, and had to stop it after twenty-four hours because it became bigoted and racist due to all the toxic language on Twitter?

[0:15:27]
Alex Cahana: AI didn’t do anything, it just showed us how we speak on Twitter. So now the question is, what do we do with that? Do we say, “Wow, this is how we talk, maybe we should talk differently, listen better, express ourselves with more empathy, focus more on what connects us rather than what makes us different”? So, in that sense, AI is almost like a mirror.

[0:16:04]
Alex Cahana: It can help us, just like the mirror I built for the phantom pain, to understand not only who we are, but why we do the things we do.

[0:16:15]
Hanh Brown: Very true. For the baby boomers, cryptocurrencies are a revolutionary way of spending and investing that’s outside their traditional financial system. 

[0:16:26]
Hanh Brown: Their decentralized nature means that they’re not subject to government or financial institution control, making them a very appealing option for those who want to avoid centralized authority. Their anonymity and security make them very desirable for those looking to keep their finances private. 

[0:16:46]
Hanh Brown: Do you see, with the rise of blockchain technology, a future where we’re all using cryptocurrencies?

[0:16:54]
Alex Cahana: That’s a very good question and I think that the answer is, things will take time. Both from understanding what cryptocurrencies are, and understanding what money really is. We’re realizing that there’s no intrinsic value in money. 

[0:17:14]
Alex Cahana: There’s no value to a piece of paper with a picture of a president that says “In God We Trust”. It’s almost like an agreement. I agree that when I see a green piece of paper with George Washington on it, that has some kind of serial number and the signature of the Secretary of Treasury, it’s worth a quarter of a hamburger.

[0:17:38]
Alex Cahana: It’s an agreement between us and sometimes, someone else might say, “No, it’s now worth more, you’ll need to pay me more or maybe less”. This is all about consensus. The reason we’re seeing limitations or movement towards the adoption of cryptocurrencies is because we don’t all agree on it.

[0:17:58]
Alex Cahana: Now, I’m always open to listen to criticisms and understand what is wrong with things, but I also like to understand who is saying it and why. My interest in money, as a doctor, is understanding that you can’t talk about mental and physical health without talking about financial health.

[0:18:23]
Alex Cahana: That’s why I work a lot in emerging economies in Africa and Latin America, where most people are underbanked or unbanked. Suddenly, these types of currencies that are not controlled, manipulated, or suppressed by central entities, give them services and opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Suddenly, you’re the bank. Suddenly, you can access me, I’m the bank, and this is where it starts to change.

[0:18:58]
Alex Cahana: We’re beginning to understand that we can do things without this intermediary. For example, we’re all old enough to remember that we used to use travel agents. Not because we were lazy, but because there was no other way to travel without talking to someone who knew all the details. 

[0:19:18]
Alex Cahana: I always thought that my travel agent was supposed to look after me and get me the best deal. Later, I realized that they make money on the revenue that comes from the airlines. So they were incentivized to charge more and they didn’t look after me, they looked after themselves.

[0:19:39]
Alex Cahana: When the internet came out and democratized that information, suddenly that information that was only available to the travel agent, I could see. Now, I don’t need a travel agent, I travel on my own. I go on the internet, I decide, and I purchase. The same thing is happening with money and with anything that, once we have data symmetry, not data asymmetry, the whole concept of what an expert is and what are the fees we have to pay an expert, completely changes.

[0:20:26]
Hanh Brown: Wow. You know, innovations in technology come with opportunities and many challenges: ethics, accessibility, trustworthiness, you name it. But it’s something worthwhile to keep an eye on because we certainly can’t ignore all these opportunities.

[0:20:46]
Hanh Brown: So, do you have any concerns about Web 3.0 impairing our privacy and safety?

[0:21:06]
Alex Cahana: Well, it’s interesting you mention that because I just wrote about this this morning on LinkedIn. I think there are two things to consider. One is that in Web 2.0, I live my digital public life out in the open and I don’t like people knowing where I’m going, what I’m purchasing, or what I’m reading. 

[0:21:26]
Alex Cahana: That’s why so many identities are hacked and suppressed, manipulated, and exploited. But with Web 3.0, it’s the opposite. I don’t care if people know what I bought a cup of coffee this morning before this excellent interview, or that after this, I will browse on a whole bunch of things pertaining to older health. 

[0:21:59]
Alex Cahana: What’s important is that I’m anonymous. Web 3.0 brings in this privacy element that does not exist in Web 2.0. That’s why our data is exploited, because we kind of really consent to it every time we agree to terms and conditions.

[0:22:19]
Alex Cahana: I don’t know that on page forty-nine in tiny fonts, it says that I can use all that information for whatever I do to make money. So, Web 3.0 protects their tracks. I’ll just add also that I think it’s even more important than privacy when we talk about ownership. And that’s really the magic of blockchain because for privacy, you can figure out stuff and build higher walls and better locks and better windows, and so on.

[0:22:54]
Alex Cahana: The same goes for security.

[0:22:59]
Alex Cahana: But ownership – that I am the master of my information, and I decide who sees what. I want a doctor to have a look at this, I decide that I want my pharmacist to look at that or my insurance company to look at that. That’s the magic of what blockchain brings in. So, again, the potential benefits of Web 2.0 now outweigh the risks, and it’s important to be aware of both.

[0:23:29]
Hanh Brown: You know, before making that transition into 3.0. So, what are your thoughts on the potential of virtual reality and augmented reality to become mainstream in Web 3.0?

[0:23:49]
Alex Cahana: I think the potential is great, but like everything, it’s always harder than you think. The hardware is a real issue here. I remember, in the early stages, we would have, you know, these gears that would be mounted on a wall, and you’d have to position yourself to that piece of gear in order to be in a virtual reality environment.

[0:24:09]
Alex Cahana: I remember that I was sick to my stomach the first time I looked at it because of the flickering frequency.

[0:24:19]
Alex Cahana: But since then it has really improved. We’re working now on Apple glasses, Google and stuff like that. There’s a trend I’ve seen on contact lenses that are smart, that are miniaturizing. It really feels like this is science fiction when I’m looking at it.

[0:24:39]
Alex Cahana: So I think that hardware improvements are going to make it more useful. People need to understand that emotion is larger than vision, larger than auditory, or hearing, it’s all the senses. So, are we going to start to wear wearables that cover our skin so I can feel sweat or weight or heat?

[0:25:09]
Alex Cahana: Or am I going to have smell come into it? Am I going to have like movements that are gonna make me feel if it’s harder or easier? So, I think that there’s still a lot of work to do for it to be easy enough to use. But I have no doubt that this technology will be adopted for the simple reason that it’s super fun.

[0:25:34]
Alex Cahana: Anyone who’s ever tried it knows that it’s magical. I remember a patient walking into the room and he was sitting there, shaky. We put him on the Oculus headset, showed him animals and asked if he preferred watching them or hunting. He said, “I want to hunt.”

[0:25:57]
Alex Cahana: And he was walking and jumping and hunting. It was amazing. I was filming him with my iPhone at the same time. When he took the headset off and started to walk a little bit, he wasn’t shaky. It’s amazing to see how we can manipulate his external environment.

[0:26:22]
Hanh Brown: Very true I echo that. Now, the applications are still in the gaming and entertainment space, but if there is more in productive tasks like work or learning for productivity, and it becomes affordable and user-friendly, it’ll catch on more.

[0:26:42]
Alex Cahana: That’s huge. A lot of seniors are on a fixed income, and it’s got to be user-friendly. What I want to emphasize for the listeners is that we don’t have to go for the very expensive high-end things. I, for example, do virtual reality every evening when I’m exhausted. I draw in my house, I light some incense, listen to music, close my eyes. What is that if not immersing myself in a different environment?

[0:27:22]
Alex Cahana: So I don’t want people to have the false notion that if they don’t buy this serious gamer multi-thousand dollar piece of equipment, they are excluded from the capability to immerse themselves in a different environment.

[0:27:31]
Hanh Brown: That’s true. Now, what implications does Web 3.0 have for businesses and consumers?

[0:27:49]
Alex Cahana: That is so important. I think there is a lot of reluctance and hesitation towards the adoption or evolution towards an Internet where we own part of it because it clearly changes the business model. 

[0:28:13]
Alex Cahana: The bottom line is that it changes the power dynamics between large centralized entities and citizens. Just to make it clear, it’s not that I don’t like corporations or capitalism, it’s just the idea that they have everything and I have nothing is unjust.

[0:28:46]
Alex Cahana: And that’s really what this is all about. I think there are very sophisticated people in the business world who understand that. Instead of making one deal of a billion dollars, maybe I can help a billion people with one dollar each and get the same amount.

[0:29:10]
Alex Cahana: There are ways to design the way we do business that can absolutely fit the decentralized nature of Web 3.0. Beyond the fairness of it, if a company sells my information and they make money off it, I would like to see a check in the mail. It can be done, we just have to rethink the way we do business.

[0:29:42]
Hanh Brown: That’s true. So rather than rely on larger central server farms, some of this data will be distributed across a network of connected devices. 

[0:29:55]
Hanh Brown: I guess this means for businesses, decentralization could reduce costs and improve efficiency and for consumers, that means greater privacy and security.

[0:30:09]
Alex Cahana: I think you’re right, I just want to make sure that people understand what I think about centralization, what is good about centralization, and what is bad about it. What is good about centralization is that you can standardize, you get efficiencies, and you get things done quickly. If I ask everyone in my neighborhood for their opinion on the best way to do this presentation, I’d never get an answer. So there are good things about doing things in a coordinated, centralized way. However, centralization is security flawed.

[0:30:48]
Alex Cahana: If I am a honeypot of a billion dollars, everyone will try to break into it, so that’s why we see these hacks. Everything can be hacked; the question is, is it worth it? So centralization is security prone, it is also prone to censorship. I can say, “Well, I don’t want people to see the real number of COVID deaths, so maybe we can fudge the numbers a little bit or present them differently”, hence it is censorable and coercion-vulnerable.

[0:31:28]
Alex Cahana: So what decentralization does is it makes the system more secure, resistant to censorship and collusion. 

[0:31:44]
Alex Cahana: At the end of the day, we’re all social animals, we like to be in a community. I don’t want to go on a tangent, but we’ve talked about this before, this idea of community is key for health and wellness. I almost want to say that the blockchain is the technological representation of who we are as a society. We’re not really made to be isolated.

[0:32:20]
Hanh Brown: So, how will Web 3.0 and the metaverse change the way that we consume information and interact with each other?

[0:32:29]
Alex Cahana: I think that once we have more ownership of our data, when we say ownership, it’s not just owning something like a house or some asset that I can prove that it’s mine. Ownership also means owning your actions. In other words, when you’re doing something malicious, everyone sees it, creating accountability. 

[0:33:03]
Alex Cahana: This reorganization in a Web 3.0 format makes us more accountable, not only for our actions but also our words. This will actually help with the problem of disinformation because you can’t go and say, “Well, Alex, you said that Web 3.0 started in the 1900s”, and I can say, “Well, I looked at it, and it’s not true”.

[0:33:43]
Alex Cahana: In a Web 2.0 format, I can say anything under my name. But in a Web 3.0 format, which is validated, where there are oracles that look and say, “Wait a second, I’m not sure that this is accurate”, you create a system of trust. That then changes the way we consume data because the problem isn’t the quantity of data, it’s the quality we can trust.

[0:34:24]
Alex Cahana: With the technology behind Blockchain, I can now trust that. I want to explain to non-technical people that what Blockchain is, is a software solution to the social problem of trust.

[0:34:44]
Hanh Brown: Recognizing some of our guests, Paul Superman, thank you for joining, and Ron, thank you so much. Ravi, Elizabeth, thank you guys for asking. I think Ron posed a question, if you could take that Alex?

[0:35:04]
Question from Ron: Alex, can you please expand on the proposition that blockchain is a digital representation of who I am?

[0:35:13]
Alex Cahana: Of course, always deep questions from you. I’m not sure that Blockchain would be the digital representation, but it would be one of the tools of that representation. 

[0:35:40]
Alex Cahana: I’m a big believer that there’s always a part of me that can never be discovered, and doesn’t need to be. I do not want to reduce myself to some type of digital footprint. But I think that the idea that we can control the digital cloud that we create around us is something central to Blockchain and Web 3.0. 

[0:36:38]
Alex Cahana: Our digital representation can be saved, analyzed, and can provide me actionable information. “Wow, I really walked a lot yesterday,” or, “I should really improve the quality of my food next time I go grocery shopping.” I think it’s a combination of the knowledge that can determine our digital self. But I believe that at the end, there are limits to how we can digitize our personhood.

[0:37:27]
Hanh Brown: What are blockchain and tokens, and how do blockchain and tokens work together? Why are blockchain and tokens important, and how can blockchain and tokens be used in the real world?

[0:37:47]
Alex Cahana: Again, I don’t want this to be a technical conversation, but I’d say that the problem that Blockchain is intended to solve is trust in the data around us. For non-technical folks, think about it this way: let’s say I’m working on a presentation. 

[0:38:25]
Alex Cahana: As more people start to watch my work, I feel the need to be more accurate. Once I’m done, I create a cryptographic signature, I lock it with a hash and send it out. That’s a block of data. I do this every day, and all these data are connected in a chain. That’s the blockchain.

[0:39:29]
Alex Cahana: We’ve created a trail of data that is tamper-proof and can’t be manipulated, unlike current data. If you ask me, I would have preferred the original name that Satoshi Nakamoto gave to blockchain because it’s really about history. From the genesis block, the first block, you can see all the transactions that have ever happened. It’s data organized in blocks that are connected in a chain.

[0:52:26]
Hanh Brown: So, if we agree that the opposite of health is isolation, the journey back to health is connectedness. This could be with family, with friends, with robots, or with something in the community. The way I explain it is that if we replace the “I”, “you”, and “illness” with “we”, we get “wellness”. 

[0:52:46]
Hanh Brown: Perhaps that dyad that we create or try to create with a robot or robots can pull us out of that isolation.

[0:52:56]
Hanh Brown: They can pull us out of that sense of hopelessness and helplessness and bring us to the “we”, to the wellness. This also connects to the metaverse, to blockchain, and to commitment. So, what are your thoughts on the ethical implications of replacing the human workforce with robots? 

[0:53:16]
Alex Cahana: Well, the ethical framework that I work in, which is the biomedical framework, really speaks to four tenets: it speaks to respect for autonomy, it speaks to non-maleficence, do no harm.

[0:53:46]
Alex Cahana: It speaks to beneficence, doing good with a capital “G”.

[0:53:51]
Alex Cahana: And it speaks to distributive justice, the access and equity of care.

[0:53:58]
Alex Cahana: So again, if a robot, or AI for that matter, any of the technology we talk about, helps fortify and preserve autonomy, that’s a good thing. The iPhone that I have is not just a piece of hardware, it’s a piece of me. 

[0:54:18]
Alex Cahana: Now, I don’t remember any numbers of my friends. I used to when I was a kid, but now, if I lose my phone, I lose a piece of me. I lose my memories, my photos, and videos. 

[0:54:32]
Alex Cahana: This is not trivial. If I lose it, it’s devastating, no different than patients with cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s who use post-it notes.

[0:54:52]
Alex Cahana: At home, when they have all their notes around, they function fine. But if you take away their post-its, they lose a lot of their autonomy. So, technology is like those post-its. 

[0:55:13]
Alex Cahana: It needs to improve your autonomy, definitely do no harm, and we understand that good is being connected and harm is isolation. That’s a good guide of what is considered harm and good with a Capital G. 

[0:55:37]
Alex Cahana: We always talk about the same things, that is flourishing, love, empathy, and being together with our family in our communities. And, of course, distributive justice, and if I am the only one who has a robot at the expense of all others receiving medical treatment, that is not okay.

[0:55:52]
Alex Cahana: And it’s not okay. I think there was recently a meme going around showing a monkey on the cover of Forbes eating a banana. The caption said, “If this monkey is hoarding all these bananas while all his fellow monkeys are starving, that monkey would be a subject of serious research.”

[0:56:13]
Alex Cahana: But if it’s a human, we put them on the cover of Forbes. So, I think that if anything, these digital companions will teach us to be better. They are really good.

[0:56:29]
Hanh Brown: Very true, there has to be some governance in that as well. Now, I want to acknowledge our guests and also answer some questions. Hey, thanks, Bobby. He raised a question: “Do they really need to understand blockchain? Can people not know that they now have the choice of owning their data and what they get paid for people using their data? What do you think, Dr. Cahana?” 

[0:57:10]
Alex Cahana: Hi Robbie, absolutely, you don’t need to know what’s under the hood. For years, I did not know how faxes work, and I didn’t know how the internet works.

[0:57:30]
Alex Cahana: It didn’t stop me from interacting with the digital world. I find it interesting that people are so obsessed with knowing the intricacies of blockchain when they are so digitally uninformed.

[0:57:36]
Alex Cahana: So, the answer is no, they do not really need to know these things.

[0:57:56]
Alex Cahana: That’s why I give these explanatory frameworks of what it does, what problems it solves. How does your web 2.0 world look versus what the web 3.0 one looks like? 

[0:58:19]
Alex Cahana: Like anything technical or professional, there’s jargon and a private language, and we just have to understand, like in medicine. You need to understand that when I say all the tests are negative, that’s a good thing.

[0:58:49]
Alex Cahana: That’s why I have tried during this conversation to give more philosophical English explanations.

[0:58:56]
Hanh Brown: Great, thank you, Robbie. Have a good afternoon. I see that you have to go, no problem. Alright, so we have a couple more questions. I’d like to talk about AI and robots that perform the same tasks as caregivers. What are your thoughts on that? 

[0:59:17]
Alex Cahana: Different countries, different communities, different marketplaces have different needs. I’m always fascinated by a project that started in Finland and also in Switzerland. Young adults, finding the cost of living too prohibitive, actually live with elders who have accommodation.

[0:59:56]
Alex Cahana: This solves the problem of isolation for the elderly.

[1:00:01]
Alex Cahana: And that is an example where it just fits the beauty of the community. They felt that this is a proper way to connect people to each other.

[1:00:17]
Alex Cahana: Now, on the other hand, I mention Japan. The same thing happens in South Korea. I visited Japan the first time in the eighties and there was a vending machine on every corner. It was very high-tech, so it makes sense to have robots there.

[1:00:37]
Alex Cahana: I remember the Sony building and the robots way before we even knew about these things. We were still paying with paper cash and everything was done digitally in Japan and Korea, even in Singapore. 

[1:00:57]
Alex Cahana: So, I would say that every community needs to come up with their own solution. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all situation. I don’t think robots will do the same thing everywhere. Maybe here in the United States, robots will just be used for automated transfer or automated schlepping.

[1:01:17]
Hanh Brown: Do the dishes or do grocery shopping? I don’t know, but what I do know is that there’s no limit to what robots can do. If they’re designed properly, contextual, ethically, paying attention to things like bias and malice, then they can be very, very helpful in a world that needs so much. So, we need robots to help us in places where we have our blind spots, and elderly care is one of our serious blind spots.

[1:02:01]
Hanh Brown: I’m sorry, I’m getting calls and feeling really distracted. I apologize.

[1:02:06]
Alex Cahana: Always. I have thought about it, and through my work as a pain doctor, seeing elderly pain, it has always been undermanaged and undertreated. So, technology for me was always a few which of a vitamin supplement to fortify that. Great analogy, thank you so much.

[1:02:17]
Hanh Brown: Alright, so now I want to know how technologies keep us younger, smarter, and happier.

[1:02:36]
Alex Cahana: Well, I can say, I can see. I mean, it has transformed my life, you know. I’ve always been curious, George. I’ve always been, you know, like I said, that intellectual anarchist, always asking why. I remember in Switzerland, they would always call me “Doctor, why?” or “Doctor, how?”. 

[1:02:55]
Alex Cahana: Yeah, you know, which means “I don’t know” or “solve this” and so this pushing to the edge keeps you on your toes. And we now know that the brain is our strongest muscle, and we just have to use it. So, I think that there are cognitive, emotional, but also physical engagements that immersive technology brings to us. 

[1:03:16]
Alex Cahana: There are things you can actually do, more like a gentleman I described, that movie making never made before, by playing again. If you tell me, “Hey, Dr. Cahana, I want, you know, after this call to do some mindfulness and breathing meditation”, you know, what are you talking about? This is Manhattan, there are like sirens all the time, I can’t do this. But there are now technological ways. I can just go into a corner and immerse myself and go to that beautiful island on the coasts of East Africa. It’s nice, so yes, it can make us the most generally mentally and physically agile, happy, curious, excited, and in the loop. I can tell you, I’m always the oldest guy in the room when I talk to all my colleagues, and they feel so, “Wow, we’re excited to talk to someone who has seen it all”. 

[1:04:02]
Alex Cahana: What you are, there was no TV or TV was black and white, and so we have so much to offer, and technology enables us to offer and give them insights. Because when we’re gone, all that knowledge will be gone.

[1:04:19]
Hanh Brown: Yeah, and to add to that, it keeps you thriving, gives you a purpose, right? It prepares you, which are very key components for baby boomers. And clearly, it keeps you in touch, you know, across the world. It has made it easier for us to learn new things, and there’s GPS tracking devices, keeps you safe, improves your health and fitness. And there are online dating platforms, connecting potential partners, streaming services to allow listening to music, watching TV shows, making traveling easier. Smartphones give us access to a wealth of information, and social media platforms like you mentioned, augmented reality. So, gosh, how would we live without taking advantage of it all? It has never been a better time. Think about how it was in the 17th century when they came up with the first technology and they gave eyeglasses, and suddenly people could see. They were blind, and they couldn’t see, and they gave them this little thing, and suddenly they could see. Think about their joy and compare that to our June. This is the best time to live because we have a portal. And I love that word “thriving” and “flourishing”. We can do whatever we want to be and what makes this time unique and others is that bad things that happened in the past were mostly because of ignorance. People just didn’t know. Now, it’s because of ineptitude, because we know it’s a choice not to. So, we have no excuse to live anything less than a great life just for us to grow in. 

[1:06:03]
Hanh Brown: Very true, very true. This is the last question, and I think it’s really important to keep this in mind. I guess I want a yes or take. What’s the most important thing that you think we as humans need to remember when it comes to technology and aging? What is your worth or wisdom with them?

[1:06:36]
Alex Cahana: Well, I think, getting the so that, different different context. The technology doesn’t do anything. It’s what we do with it. There’s this philosophy, it’s called, as a fancy name, a very logical fallacy, but basically what it means is that I attribute the characteristics of a whole to a part. So, for example, I say, “My brain wants my left side to do this, my right side to do that.” That’s not true, that’s a figure of speech. The true statement is, “Alex, with his brain, does this? Alex, with his left side and right side, does this.” So, technology doesn’t do anything. It’s what we do with it. So, now, I don’t even have the same type of technology. I can talk to you directly rather than say, “Oh, I’m doing this technology thanks to the internet, web camera, or peer-to-peer.” I don’t know why there’s still me. Is that we now do something like this idea of the extended mind. That knowledge is part of our capabilities. And I like to use technology as a food analogy. I think I eat, I tech, and that’s it. And if we look at it this way, then it’s just part of me. Oh, we’re all good people and do good stuff with it. We took well, it’s up to us to tech well and not too. 

[1:08:29]
Hanh Brown: Absolutely, and you know what? With the right tools and attitude, aging doesn’t have to mean that you have to give up on technology altogether. And there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to technology and aging, other than I would highly encourage you that don’t stop learning. Technology is a means to learn and grow and thrive and flourish, all of which you will need as you age. Love it, and I love how you use the word “age” as a verb. Get used to being this now. What is your age? But now, we age well, and part of aging well is loving well, exercising well, teching well, eating well. It’s just another dimension that connects us from the physical to the digital. Thank you so much. Do you have anything else that you would like to add as we come to a close?

[1:09:41]
Alex Cahana: I would say that this is one of the most fun, if not the most fun conversation I’ve had because it takes things from a very different approach, a very human-centric approach. And this is really what this is all about because at the end of the day, none of us is as good as all of us. And I appreciate you for what you’re doing, the questions that you asked, and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate your time. So, in conclusion… 

[1:10:54]
Hanh Brown: Thank you so much for joining today. In a few topics for upcoming weeks, one is that we’re going to talk about research in age-related cognitive decline and connecting the world of neuroscience and neurology. Another topic is how we can help breathe new life into your multifamily and senior living assets. Another topic is aging in place safely and successfully while preparing for long-term care. Then also reframing the perception and experience of growing older. We think you so much. I appreciate your questions. We learned so much from you as well, and we’ll see you next week. Take care.

[1:11:41]
Hanh Brown: Thank you for listening to another episode of “The Boomer Living” broadcast. I know you have a lot of options when it comes to podcasts, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen this one. Please share this podcast with your friends and family, write a review on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play. It helps others discover the show. You can also contact us at 736-350-6842 to leave a review and request content for the show. We love hearing from our listeners. Check out our TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube channel, Aging Media Show, and subscribe for weekly tips on how to best serve the senior population. We want to help them have a great experience as they age. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time.

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