Well-Being, Wisdom, Health, and IT: From the Big-Picture to the Small-Picture

Well-Being, Wisdom, Health, and IT: From the Big-Picture to the Small-Picture

Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3986-7.ch001
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The purpose of this study is to define a comprehensive solution for the improvements of lives of Americans. It is assumed that health is one of the three major constituents of life. The other two are well-being and Health Information Infrastructure. A lack of one of these minimizes the chance for Americans, and in general humans in any country, to lead good lives. It will be a quest for the answer to the question of how to minimize civilizational negatives, particularly in the area of health and its quickly rising costs. Key goals and strategies are defined by improving well-being and health of Americans. Issues such as wisdom and intelligence of the society are evaluated in the context of mental health, prevention, and lifestyles. Special attention is given to the issues of health-care quality and costs and the role and architecture of the Health Information Infrastructure. The conclusion evaluates the chances for implementing the proposed solutions.
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The Contours Of World Civilizational Development

In the year 1000 A.D., average life expectancy at the world level was probably about 24 years—not much worse than in 1820 – 26 years. The rise was biggest from 24 to 36 years in Group A (Western-West Civilization [Western Europe and Western Offshoots]). Since then has risen to 78 years in 1999. In Group B (Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia (excluding Japan), Africa) there were no improvement between 1000 and 1820. However, between 1820 and 1999 it had grown dramatically to an average of 64 years (Maddison 2001).

This very impressive growth of life expectation is supported mostly by world economic development. It was much better in the second millennium of our era than in the first. Between 1000 and 1998, population rose 22-fold and per capita income 13-fold. In the first millennium (0-1000), population rose by a sixth and per capita GDP fell slightly.

In the 1000-2000 millennium, one can recognize two phases of civilizational. From 1000 to 1820 the upward growth per capita income was slow. For the whole world, the rise was about 50 percent. It was “extensive” growth, generated to accommodate a 4-fold growth of population. Since 1820 (Industrial Revolution), world civilizational was more “intensive,” driven by industrial methods such as innovations and productivity. In effect, per capita income rose faster than population; by 1998 it was 8.5 times as high as in 1980, population rose 5.6-fold (Maddison 2001).

The pace of change within the world’s regions has been uneven. There were major disasters in the 6th (Bubonic Plague) and 14th (Black Death) centuries in Europe. Until the 19th century population growth was interrupted by hunger crises due to harvest failure, waves of infectious disease, or war. A major instance of this type of crisis was the potato famine which doubled the normal death rate in Ireland over the six years 1846-51. “Excess” deaths were nearly one million or about 12 percent of the 1845 population (Grada 1988). In the 20th century, just after the end of World War I, the Spanish Flu (1918-1919) epidemic in Europe killed more people (50-100 million worldwide) than that war (20 million).

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