Martha Lane Fox: Advances in technology can 'widen the health gap between rich and poor'

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Internet pioneer Martha Lane Fox has warned that advances in technology have the power to widen the health gap between rich and poor.

The co-founder of lastminute.com fears that treatment, such as via robot doctors, will be the preserve of the wealthy.

Eric Schmidt, the boss of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has revealed that its projects now include training computers to analyse 100 million pieces of skin “more accurately than dermatologists”.

In an interview at her Marylebone home, Baroness Lane-Fox, 44, said she was told 20 years ago that the internet was a passing fad.

She added: “I’m fundamentally optimistic, but in the future the haves and have-nots will become more profound — those people who have access to all these resources and information and learning, and people who don’t.

“Can you go to a school where you get the latest bits of education, and are you able to genetically modify your future generations so they don’t get cancer?

When you look at the process of people dying in this country and the NHS budget for end-of-life care, there’s so many opportunities to help engage more face-to-face care by using technology more smartly.”

The crossbench peer is now a director at Twitter and runs Dot Everyone, a think tank “fighting for a fairer internet”. A mother of twin boys aged one, she said: “Technology deployed in the right way can enrich children’s lives very deeply.

“Screens aren’t inherently bad, but they are bad if you’re in your dark room at night aged 12 and you’re not sleeping and you’re doing that frenzied jumping between apps.”


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