Interview with Sven Kernebeck about the Zweikörperproblem (two-body problem) Podcast

Sven Kernebeck is a research assistant at the DZNE site in Witten. His work focuses, among other things, on the user-centred development and evaluation of digital interventions for the care of people with dementia.

Since mid-2018 he has been running the Digital Health Podcast Zweikörperproblem together with Markus Gennat and Jan Ehlers. Discussions will focus on how digitisation, technologies and innovations affect the health of the population and what consequences they have.

It all sounds very exciting and so we talked to Sven Kernebeck about his podcast.

How did you decide to start a podcast? And how long has the podcast been around?

I have been listening to podcasts myself for many years, especially of course on topics related to technology and digitisation. There was hardly anything on the subject of Digital Health in Germany, so it was a good idea to start with your own podcast. Markus and I also noticed that at meetings we always discuss jazz and hip-hop records first and then spend hours talking about technological developments. We're also both big science fiction fans. Since Markus also works in the field of digitization/technologies in the health care sector, the project was clear for us. There was only one catchy name two find and two-body problem (the physicists know that) was born.

But why is podcasting so popular? And why is the medium interesting for science?

In my opinion, popularity can be traced back to the needs of people to consume information flexibly and thereby acquire knowledge. Scientific topics in particular can be communicated and discussed in a completely different way through podcasts. As a rule, you can only listen to the very well-known experts on the radio or in lectures, or you can just read an article. But in a podcast you can give a voice to any small start-up, research project or anyone with a passion for a topic. Topics can be discussed quite differently than it is usually the case. Through a podcast you get to know people you wouldn't otherwise get to know, even if you are so good at networking. The atmosphere here is always humorous and casual. We're always somehow drifting away from the subject and turning to science fiction. Try that in an article.

How was the start? Don't you have to buy a lot of software and hardware before you can get started?

That's the great thing about podcasting, a halfway good microphone for less than 100€ is enough. With a good microphone in the laptop even this is sufficient. The software for recording and cutting is available free of charge. The bigger problem is getting used to the logic of podcasting: You need a website, a hosting service, search engine optimization, Twitter, logo, etc. But when you're a little affine, it's quick. A few hours on YouTube and you can do it.

How do you find your topics? Does this result from everyday life as a researcher or do you also listen to suggestions from the audience?

We occupy ourselves intensively with digital topics and all three of them professionally, and we also enjoy reading books: We have a long, very long Excel list of topics that we will probably never be able to work through. There is an infinite variety of topics concerning technologies and their impact on health. Health and illness do not only arise in the health system, we adhere closely to the Ottawa Charter of the WHO. For Example: Artificial intelligence will fundamentally transform medical diagnostics and the profession of the physician in the near future. Autonomous driving is highly likely to lead to a drastic reduction in accidents and the loss of entire job profiles. The electrification of the automotive industry affects the noise and air in our cities. The smartphone influences e.g. the sleep quality or how we find partners. Biotechnology and mRNA vaccines are currently transforming the pharmaceutical industry and the properties of vaccines. At what points in the supply chain is it ethically justified to use a robot? In addition, depending on who you believe, life expectancy rises by about 1.5 to 3 years every 10 years. In short, in almost every area of society, new technologies will affect our lives and people's health, many processes will take place simultaneously. The core of this development is in particular the convergence of technologies, i.e. the phenomenon of "convergence". And there is at least a very high probability that new schools of thought such as Deep-Tech will be able to combat complex health problems in the future. But there will be new health problems, which we do not know yet.

The current episode deals with the Magdeburg start-up "neomento". DZNE'ler are also involved ther Does the podcast have any influence on your research? Are there also collaborations for work or do you simply look into the research of other DZNE colleagues out of curiosity?

Definitely, you learn a lot with every episode: First, because you have to prepare yourself, of course: In the case of neomento, precisely with the logic and evidence of virtual reality in anxiety therapy. On the other hand, you also learn through discussion with the people. From Jens Klaubert and Phillip Stepnicka we learned a lot about the potential and future development in virtual reality. The potential for new cooperations is huge. Long before our podcast, I talked to Jens Klaubert about the approach of neomento and how they proceed with the planned spin-off, and I learned a lot. And curiosity is always on board.

Why don't you tell us a little bit more about your two comrades-in-arms?

As I said, Markus and I are good friends and could discuss our topics for hours. Markus is also a research assistant and works at the University of Applied Sciences Münster in the Department of Health. Jan joined us a little later, he is Professor of Medical Didactics at the University of Witten/Herdecke. It turns out that we can discuss our topics with him for hours as well. Jan and Markus are both very passionate and very competent comrades-in-arms: We all have a different perspective on the topics. Despite many concerns, fears and possible dystopias associated with digitisation and new technologies, we want to throw courage and confidence into digital issues.

You call yourselve "Star Trek Scenario Argumentator" on the podcast's web page. What does that mean?

Well, science fiction plays a big role in technology. Scenarios for future developments are often drawn up. Such scenarios can also be used to discuss many ethical and moral questions on the subject of health. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, has depicted for me a particularly desirable future for society, well, except perhaps for the Klingons. In Gene Roddenberrys future, mankind has overcome phenomena such as materialism, wars (thus independent of wars with the Klingons of course) or hunger, one is largely independent of resources and gainful employment. The focus is on research and development and on Community progress. This is a scenario that I consider desirable. The matrix scenario is another. Humans are enslaved by machines and function only as energy sources for machines. In the matrix, the everyday life of people is simulated in a virtual reality. I don't think that's particularly desirable. Which scenario one considers more likely is of course up to each individual. We often discuss such scenarios in our podcast and everyone is sometimes more convinced of one scenario and sometimes more convinced of the other. I want to fly with the Enterprise: that's why I like this scenario the most. Probably neither of the two scenarios applies.

Your podcast recommendations please?!

I was afraid of that question. How much room do I have? A big podcast scene has been developing in Germany for some years now, but it is not yet as differentiated as in the USA, for example. In England, for example, there is a podcast in which young scientists talk in detail about dementia research, their topics, or their problems with publications. It also teaches how dementia research works in the UK. Since 2018, however, a strong podcast scene on the subject of health has been developing in Germany. One student at the DZNE Witten, Franziska Jagoda, for example, is involved in a podcast on the subject of nursing, the "Übergabe Podcast" - please listen directly. I can highly recommend the podcasts "Critical Thinking", "Evidenzgeschichen" and the "eHealth Podcast". A great podcast on health policy is the "GMP Podcast". But I prefer to listen to the podcast from and from Sascha Lobo. For critical thinkers I can recommend the "Demanded Podcast". I'm not starting from Star Trek podcasts, there are too many of them.


Follow Sven Kernebeck on Twitter
The Podcast tweets here and can be heard on Panoptikum and Spotify.

More information on neomento.

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