Technology is in the process of completely transforming all aspects of 4 industries – construction, medicine, retail, and transport – with a significant reduction in the need for human labor. Here is the impact on Medicine, where, within 10-20 years (or less), it is reasonable to expect that:

  • Most diseases will be eradicated (although some new ones may develop).
  • We will be wearing sensors that constantly monitor our health, and immediately start a remedial process when something is wrong (from ordering medications, to booking an appointment with a medical specialist, or dispatching an ambulance).
  • Medication dosage and anesthetics will be customized for our personal situation (weight, age, medical history, genetic makeup, etc.)
  • Medication will be delivered at the required frequency and dosage from automatic dispensers.
  • All medical testing (blood, imaging, etc.) will be automated, with analyses confirmed (at least for a while) by specialists who may reside remotely.
  • All surgery will be minimally invasive or replaced by the use of nanobots. Some surgery will be performed remotely.
  • Defective organs will be replaced by transplants built from our own stem cells.
  • Limbs and eyes will be replaced by brain-controlled prostheses that operate more effectively than human versions. (The $6 Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman may no longer be fiction!)
  • Living to an age of 130-150 years will be normal with a good quality of life.

The technologies, which will make this vision a reality, include AI, Robotics, Nanotechnology, and Biotechnology (gene editing via CRISPR-Cas9 with its enormous potential and considerable dangers).

The impact of these technologies on the medical profession is considerable. As with all professions, lower-level functions will be replaced by automation, but so will many specialists. There is already a suggestion that medical schools stop training radiologists (see below) as the ability of AI routines to analyze medical images is starting to match that of specialists, and will soon exceed it. As the above vision starts to be implemented, the need for general practitioners will reduce. (From as far back as 1979, studies have shown that people are more honest in responding to computer terminals – or robots – than to nurses or GPs.)

The jobs in the medical profession that will likely last longer are those requiring direct patient contact. So psychiatrists and psychologists will be around for the foreseeable future, and may be more in demand as society learns to cope with a world without paid work. (On the other hand, a client of Nick’s was developing a computer-based program to provide cognitive behavioral therapy about 15 years ago.). While the need for nurses and administrators in doctors’ offices will disappear, nurses will still be needed to provide hospital and community patient care.



Prosthetics maker forges an alliance to 3D-print cheaper alternatives (Additive Manufacturing/Prosthetics – 2018-02 – ZDNet)

Doctor in a box – telehealth access (AI – 2018-01 – ZDNet)

Glaucoma specialists not needed for laser treatment (Laser/Opthamology – 2017-06 – Belkin)


The first robot-assisted spinal surgery is successful using Da Vinci robotic arms (Robotics/Surgery - 2018-05 - Engadget)

The University of Pennsylvania performed the first-ever robot-assisted spinal surgery, using Da Vinci’s robotic arms to remove a rare tumor where a spine meets a. The successful two-day operation involved neurosurgeons preparing the spine using ultrasonic cuts, and the robot clearing a path for removing the tumor through the mouth.

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AI is better than dermatologists at diagnosing skin cancer (AI/Dermatology - 2018-05 - ScienceBlog)

Researchers in Germany, the USA, and France trained a deep learning convolutional neural network to identify skin cancer by showing it more than 100,000 images of malignant melanomas, as well as benign moles. Its performance was better than that of 58 international dermatologists.

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Diagnostic imaging computers outperform human counterparts (AI/Diagnosis - 2018-04 - Case Western Daily)

‘Deep learning’ computers in Case Western Reserve university’s diagnostic imaging lab routinely defeat their human counterparts in detecting various cancers and predicting their strength. Case studies:
• Diagnosing heart failure: 97% accuracy c.f. 74% for two pathologists.
• Distinguishing benign from malignant lung nodules on CAT scans: 5-8% superior to two human experts.
• Prostate cancer scans: computational imaging algorithms detected cancer in an MRI scan in >70% of cases where radiologists missed and correctly detected no cancer in 50% of cases where radiologists reported cancer.

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AI is quicker and more effective than humans in analyzing heart scans (AI/Imaging - 2018-03 -

UC San Francisco research showed that advanced machine learning can classify essential views from heart ultrasound tests faster, more accurately, and with less data than board-certified echocardiographers.180,000 real-world echocardiogram images were used to train a computer to assess the most common echocardiogram views. Both the computer and skilled human technicians were tested on new samples. The computers accurately assessed images 91.7-97.8% of the time, versus 70.2-83.5% for the technicians.

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AI can diagnose prostate cancer as well as a pathologist (AI/Pathology - 2018-03 - Science Business)

Confirmation of a prostate cancer diagnosis normally requires a biopsy sample to be examined by a pathologist. Chinese researchers have developed an AI system with similar levels of accuracy to pathologists, while accurately classifying the level of malignancy of cancer, eliminating the variability which can creep into human diagnoses.

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Robot-assisted knee replacement surgery is coming (Robotics/Surgery - 2018-02 - ZDNet)

Johnson & Johnson announced the acquisition of French Orthotaxy, a developer of robot-assisted orthopedic surgery solutions, including for knee replacements, for which about 780,000 are performed in the US annually. There’s currently a rush to develop new robot-assisted surgical devices, in the areas of laparoscopy, pediatrics, and minimally-invasive surgeries on delicate tissues, such as the lungs.

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AI diagnoses eye diseases within 30 seconds with >95% accuracy (AI/Opthamology - 2018-02 -

Researchers at UC San Diego, with colleagues in China, Germany, and Texas, have developed a new computational tool to screen patients with possible macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema. Machine-derived diagnoses were compared with diagnoses from 5 ophthalmologists who reviewed the same scans. With simple training, the machine performed similar to the ophthalmologists, generating a decision on whether or not the patient should be referred for treatment within 30 seconds, with more than 95 percent accuracy.

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AI shown reliable in recognizing and classifying 3 major eye diseases (AI/Opthamology - 2018-01 - Futurism)

A recent study from researchers at the Singapore National Eye Center showed that deep learning software, built to recognize and classify retinal images, was reliable in recognizing diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. This can potentially reduce 80 percent of the workload of graders and optometrists, freeing up their time for treatment.

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A prominent AI researcher suggested that advances in AI mean that medical schools “should stop training radiologists now.” (AI/Radiology - 2018-01 - MIT Technology Review)

Stanford researchers trained a convolutional neural network to detect abnormalities (like fractures, or bone degeneration) better than radiologists in finger and wrist radiographs. (However, radiologists were still better at spotting issues in elbows, forearms, hands, upper arms, and shoulders.) Geoffrey Hinton, a prominent AI researcher, told the New Yorker that advances in AI mean that medical schools “should stop training radiologists now.”

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The first robot that could be licensed to practice medicine (Robotics/General Practice - 2017-11 - Futurism)

Xiaoyi, a Chinese AI-powered robot recently became the first robot to pass a national medical licensing examination. It achieved a score of 456 points – 96 points above the required pass mark.

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World-first: 3D-printed tantalum knee joint implanted in a Chinese patient (Additive Manufacturing/Implants - 2017-11 -

An 84-year-old Chinese patient recently received a knee-revision surgery with the implantation of the first 3D-printed tantalum knee joint in the world. Personalized 3D printed tantalum joints create better compactness, helping assure the initial stability of the implantation, simplify the surgery procedure, reduce the surgery time and risk of complication.

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Microscopic robots made from spirulina can travel inside the body guided by magnets (Robotics/Pharmacology - 2017-11 - Sciencemag)

Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong have built a micro-scale robot swimmer made from spirulina, a green-blue alga, which is biocompatible and, being shaped like a coiled spring, is very maneuverable. Coating the alga with iron oxide nanoparticles tracks its position via its fluorescent glow, while shallow, or using nuclear magnetic resonance. Next step is to train the robots to deliver drugs.

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NYC patient receives Australian-made 3D-printed sternum and rib cage transplant (Additive Manufacturing/Implants - 2017-10 -

A partnership between Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and medical device company Anatomics resulted in the first successful implantation of a 3D printed titanium and polymer sternal and rib cage in a New York patient. Anatomics’ ‘PoreStar’ technology, a unique porous polyethylene material provided “bone-like” architecture to facilitate tissue integration.

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Swallowable robots could be the future of healthcare (Robotics/Pharmacology - 2017-10 - ZDNet)

Two Caltech researchers have developed a prototype microscale processor that can respond to magnetic fields as atoms in the human body do under MRI, thereby demonstrating their exact location and delivering drugs exactly the site they’re needed, with sub-millimeter precision. ATOMS (Addressable Transmitters Operated as Magnetic Spins) devices can give its location accurate to 360 microns. Next steps are to add sensors to transmit data as it travels, and to handle disposal when finished.

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Spine surgery faster and safer with a robot (Robotics/Surgery - 2017-10 - ZDNet)

A form of robotic-guided spine surgery results in a 5-fold reduction in surgical complications and a 7-fold reduction in revision surgeries compared to freehand methods. That’s according to the interim results of a multi-center prospective study that includes 379 spine surgery patients. The guided-surgery tech used in the spinal surgery study is called the Renaissance Guided System by Mazor Robotics. Mazor is a publicly-traded Israeli company.

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A Chinese robot dentist operated on a human patient for the first time (Robotics/Dentistry - 2017-09 - Futurism)

A robot dentist created in China has successfully performed dental surgery on a patient without human input. The robot implanted two artificial teeth within the margin of error required for the specific type of operation it was performing. The artificial teeth were created using 3D printing technology. Medical staff were needed to position orientation equipment, program the robot’s movements, and determine the angle and depth needed to properly implant the teeth.

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Switzerland joins Rwanda and Tanzania with a network of drones delivering medical supplies (Drone/Hospital - 2017-09 - Fast Company)

Switzerland will be the first country in the developed world to have permanent drone networks, with drones flying through urban airspace near busy international airports. Permanent drone delivery networks are already in use in Africa, where drones send units of blood for transfusions to remote clinics in Rwanda, and will soon deliver other medical supplies such as antimalarial drugs and emergency vaccines in Tanzania. Matternet, a Silicon Valley-based tech company, designed the drones, along with a cloud system for sending and receiving platforms–and a newly launched system that can autonomously load, launch, and land the drones.


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Australian man receives 3D-printed shinbone in world-first surgery (Additive Manufacturing/Implants - 2017-09 - The Age)

Surgeons at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital have performed world-first surgery, transplanting a 3D printed shinbone into the leg of a man who faced amputation. The surgery ensures there is sufficient blood flow to allow the new bone to grow around the outside of the 3D bone scaffold. The scaffold was modeled at the Queensland University of Technology, where it was “spun” from a polymer, and then ‘printed’ in Singapore. As the new bone grows around the scaffold, the scaffold will slowly dissolve.

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Walking DNA nanorobot could deliver a drug to a precise location in your body (Robotics/Pharmacology - 2017-09 - Kurzweil)

Caltech scientists have developed the proof-of-concept for a “cargo sorting” DNA nanorobot programmed to autonomously “walk” around a surface, pick up certain molecules, and drop them off in designated locations. Future uses could include creating programmable drugs or delivering them when a specific signal is received in the bloodstream or cells.

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Pluripotent stem cells generated using a 3D-printer (Additive Manufacturing - 2017-08 -

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong have 3D-printed human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), using a custom bio-ink. This flexible 3D tissue engineering technology enables iPSCs generated from an individual’s own body to divide after printing and differentiate allowing the formation and replacement of any tissue type of the body. Once acceptable reliability is achieved, healthy tissue could be manufactured to replace or repair organs that were damaged due to injury or disease.

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Toyota completes 1st in-home human support robot trial in North America (Robotics/Geriatrics - 2017-06 - The Crunch)

The robot has wheels, visual sensors, and an articulating arm appendage. It can perform simple tasks around the house like opening/closing doors and fetching water bottles. Toyota also has projects underway targeting improved mobility for users with limited or impaired capacities, including a wearable robotic leg brace, help for those with sight problems gain improved surrounding awareness, robots to help transfer patients between beds and chairs, and a device to help transfer in/out of car seats.

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AI used to treat bipolar disorder in an app that could revolutionize medicine (AI/Psychiatry - 2017-06 - ScienceBlog)

David Fleck, an associate professor at the UC College of Medicine, and his co-authors used artificial intelligence called “genetic fuzzy trees” to predict how bipolar patients would respond to lithium. The best of 8 common models used in treating bipolar disorder predicted who would respond to lithium treatment with 75 percent accuracy. By comparison, the AI model was 100% accurate, and even predicted the actual reduction in manic symptoms after lithium treatment with 92% accuracy. Unlike other types of AI, fuzzy logic can describe in simple language why it made its choices. The model could help personalize medicine to individual patients, making health care both safer and more affordable. Fewer side-effects mean fewer hospital visits, less secondary medication, and better treatments.

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New 3D-printing method may allow for fast, low-cost, more-flexible medical implants (Additive Manufacturing/Implants - 2017-05 - Kurzweil)

University of Florida (UF) researchers have developed a method for 3D-printing soft-silicone medical implants that are stronger, quicker, less expensive, more flexible, and more comfortable than the implants currently available. Create a customized part for an individual patient using the current molding technology is very expensive and take days or weeks. The 3D printing method cuts that time to hours, potentially saving lives.

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First use of surgical robot inside the human eye (Robotics/Opthamology - 2017-05 - NewsWise)

Surgeons successfully used a remote-controlled robotic system operating inside the human eye, paving the way for robotic assistance in clinical treatments requiring extreme precision and stability, e.g. Controlled delivery of gene therapy & stem cells.

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New drill reduces complex cranial surgery from 2 hours to 150 seconds (Robotics/Surgery - 2017-05 - Neurosurgical Focus)

Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a computer-driven automated drill, similar to those used to machine auto parts, that produces fast, clean and safe cuts, reducing the time the wound is open and the patient is anesthetized, thereby decreasing the incidence of infection, human error, and surgical cost. The new machine can make one type of complex cranial surgery 50 times faster than standard procedures.

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Deep-learning neural network accurately forecasts onset of Alzheimer’s (AI/Alzheimer's - 2017-04 - MIT Technology Review)

South Korean researchers have developed a deep-learning neural network that can identify, with 81% accuracy, those likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the next three years. The evidence continues to suggest that deep-learning machines can spot complex conditions earlier and more accurately than humans.

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Machine learning algorithm beats ACC-AHA heart-attack risk guidelines by 7.6% (AI/Cardiology - 2017-04 - Engadget)

A team of researchers from the UK University of Nottingham has developed a machine-learning algorithm that can predict your likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke better than a doctor, using ACC/AHA guidelines. The neural network algorithm beat the guidelines by 7.6% while raising 1.6% fewer false alarms.

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Robots adapt to human unpredictability (Robotics/Geriatrics - 2017-04 -

Northwestern University mechanical engineering professor Todd Murphey and his team are engineering robots to make robotic assistance seamless by teaching them the tasks that humans do and helping them to adapt to human unpredictability. This approach may be helpful in stroke rehabilitation.

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3D-printed tooth for customized dental implant without drilling (Additive Manufacturing/Dentistry - 2017-03 - PR Newswire)

Natural Dental Implants AG (NDI) announced a 3D-printed tooth replacement, which features an anatomically-shaped, 100% customized, titanium-zirconia tooth, and a customized cover shield designed to protect the tooth during the healing process. This offers patients an immediate, minimally invasive alternative to traditional dental implants and three-unit bridges, which can be modified to overcome anatomical limitations or to meet specific clinical requirements.

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Swiss hospitals use drones to exchange lab samples (Drone/Hospital - 2017-03 - The Verge)

Two hospitals in Lugano have been testing the use of drones to transport laboratory samples. Since mid-March, logistics company Swiss Post has operated more than 70 tests flights and plans a regular service by 2018. It’s the 1st time drones will be used commercially for this purpose in an urban area. The drones are made by American company Matternet, have a load capacity of up to two kilograms, a range of 20 kilometers, and a top speed of 36 kilometers per hour.

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Google deep learning AI diagnoses cancer better than pathologists (AI/Pathology - 2017-03 - Int'l Business Times)

Google has been working on an advanced image-recognition system for several years, initially for the autonomous car project, now for cancer diagnosis. Recently the AI system was pitted against an experienced expert pathologist to examine slides in an unlimited time frame. While the human being achieved 73 percent accuracy, by the end of tweaking, GoogLeNet scored a smooth 89 percent accuracy.

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Panasonic unveils human-like companion robot (Robotics/Geriatrics - 2017-01 - ZDNet)

Panasonic has developed a proof-of-concept robot that boasts “human-like” movements and communication skills. The desktop companion robot connects via Wi-Fi to natural language processing technology. The robot can access and use cloud data and communicate with devices in other locations. The size of a standard kitchen countertop blender, the robot includes an embedded projector that is enclosed within the eggshell-shaped device.

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Astronauts to 3D-print medical tools in space, thanks to Toronto doctor (Additive Manufacturing - 2017-01 - CTVNews)

If astronauts aboard the International Space Station need a medical tool, such as a surgical instrument or a finger splint, they used to wait for a resupply mission. Now, they will use a 3D-printer aboard the ISS. This ground-breaking concept was devised by Toronto doctor Julielynn Wong. In 2011, Wong founded the company 3D4MD, which uses 3D-printing and low-cost technologies to supply remote locations, including space, with healthcare supplies.

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