MTurk vs. Apple

Well, it isn’t really a head-to-head battle, but Apple’s New ResearchKit is bringing crowdsourcing to medical research.

There are already concerns about anonymity, informed consent, privacy–all the regular things. But also of concern is the WEIRD factor–the idea that most people who will participate in this type of study are from Western educated industrialized rich democratic countries, and this doesn’t reflect the world’s population as a whole. Having generalizable populations is important for health research, because as the article points out:

The people most likely to jump on the ResearchKit bandwagon will be “people who are serious about doing something about their disease — a particular kind of patient,” Eyal says. If these people are more willing to work to improve their health, we might end up with large data sets that track only the most-engaged patients.

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