One could say that diagnosis and surveillance are friends.

They detect deviation. When it is identified, it is categorized and acted upon. The objective is to normalize and to minimize.

To minimize the risk of infection, we recommend that you wash your hands thoroughly.

We should try to minimize our carbon footprint.

To normalize one’s sleeping schedule.

It is important to normalize your behavior in order to be successful.

And so on.

What if we used diagnostics and surveillance to actually encourage deviation?

To minimize deviation is to reduce the risks, but it is also to reduce the possibility for something new to emerge. There would be no evolution without deviation. That is not to say that we should devolve. It’s nice to keep some deviation here and there for things to move on in an interesting way on some weird tangents.

Some viruses can evolve and replicate so quickly that they can outpace the human immune system, making them exceptionally dangerous.

Before we get to the deviation part, it can be interesting to give surveillance and diagnosis a closer look.

For a few years now, surveillance has started to enter the human body. In the beginning, it was just a gaze (although with a promise of violence in case of defiance). Then, it advanced towards the surface of the body (stop and frisk, racial profiling). Finally, it entered the body itself through the temperature sensors, vaccine passes, and various other biometrical systems.

Something similar is happening to the diagnostic systems. They become less and less intrusive, more integrated, and sleek. The corners are getting round, the shapes are becoming more futuristic.

A smart shoe sole sends a warning to a nurse seconds before the patient is going to fall. A wearable bracelet will detect pathological variations in the heartbeat and recommend a suitable drug to reduce the symptoms.

Fitter, healthier, more productive. Less deviation, more normalization.

Deviation Control System (DCS).

DCS is a set of algorithms used to control the path of an aircraft.

DCS is a quality management system that provides for the identification, analysis, and correction of deviations from quality standards.

And so on.

While there is no need to deny the advantages of something that is useful, it is also interesting to look into something that may seem less useful.

How could we use diagnostics and surveillance to actually encourage deviation?

One way could be to introduce a ‘deviation score’ for individuals. This score could be used to identify people who are likely to deviate from norms and to encourage them to do so. It was the AI who proposed it, but it actually makes sense. The neural network knows that gamification is quite an effective way to manipulate.

Another possibility is to use the existing mechanisms but change the way we approach them.

For instance, using the SPO (oxygen meter) for breathing exercises in order to see how low you could actually go in your oxygen levels.

Or using a motion tracker to create as much variability as possible (instead of following a certain routine).

CCTV cameras could be hijacked to film interventions.

Covid tests could be used to get extra vacation time.

Recommendation algorithms could be exchanged between different people so that they explore each other’s preferences.

Security personnel could be asked to patrol a busy square and not to let anyone in.

Video tracking systems could be used for purely aesthetic reasons.

Statistical tools could be used to provide strange predictions.

Monitors could be used to influence, not to reflect.

Heart rate monitors could be used to create sound.

Etc. etc.

In a way, we are still loyal to the original meanings of the words.

Diagnosis — through the knowledge.

Surveillance — to watch over.

A nervous system and an immune system are also surveillance mechanisms.