The Annals of Cardiology No. 14 | Magic Wands and Cybersecurity
What would you do if you owned a magic wand? Would you make dinner appear just like that? Would you conjure up a million dollars? Or would you use it to control other people, maybe even evaporate your enemies? Poof!?
We have a real-life magic wand at 27 Point Finger Road. In fact, we have three. We pull them out on Tuesday afternoons. The wand is a pear-shaped thing, attached by a cord to a computer whose name is Merlin. I can make magical things happen when I wave the wand at someone who has a pacemaker. A pacemaker delivers a small amount of electricity, just enough to cause the heart to beat, and thereby prevents the heart from beating too slowly. With my magic wand and a little help from Merlin, I can make my patient’s heart speed up or slow down. Gosh, if I were criminal-minded, I could stop it altogether.
Patients line up every Tuesday to have the wand waved at them. This is how it happens: I bring the patient into a room and close the door. Because they’re sitting and I’m standing, they are eye level with my tie-clip and stomach. Occasional comments are made, either about my frog tie-clip or my weight (“You’re getting a little heavy Dr. Marshall” or, more recently, “I see you’ve been on your treadmill again”). I answer most questions. Sometimes I suggest, since I am about to take control of their heart, that they be nice (don’t tell me I’m fat). Then I place my magic wand over their chest. No need to undress, the wand goes right through clothes, uploading information from the pacemaker and allowing me to run tests on it.
You can see that owning this kind of magic wand is a privilege and also a serious responsibility. But what if the wand got into the hands of evil wizards, hackers, or terrorists?
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