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)


First long-distance heart surgery performed via robot in India (Telemedicine Surgery - 2019-09 - ZDNet)

A doctor in India has performed a series of 5 successful percutaneous coronary intervention procedures on patients who were 20 miles away, using a precision vascular robot developed by Corindus. Telemedicine is an emerging field, leveraging advances in networking, robotics, mixed reality, and communications technologies to beam in medical experts to remote locations for everything from consultations to surgical procedures.

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A Six Million Dollar Man: Turning fiction into reality (Additive Manufacturing - 2019-07 -

Designing an effective surgical instrument requires multiple prototypes in stainless steel, each costing $5-10,000, and taking weeks to produce. With 3D printing, prototypes cost about $100 each, and are completed within days.

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Walmart and IBM pilot prescription medication tracking (Medicine/Prescriptions - 2019-06 - TechRepublic)

IBM, Walmart, KPMG, and Merck were chosen by the US Food and Drug Administration to run a pilot project using blockchain to identify, track, and trace prescription medications and vaccines distributed in the US. The pilot is intended to quickly identify suspicious products and speed the recall process.

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Shoppers Drug Mart to use blockchain technology to trace medical cannabis (Marijuana/Blockchain - 2019-06 - CTV)

Shoppers Drug Mart plans to use blockchain technology to trace the source of the cannabis it distributes, as part of an effort to set standards for the flourishing industry. It is teaming up with Canadian software firm TruTrace to develop and deploy a pilot project to ensure the traceability of medical cannabis.

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By 2030, everything you know about being human will change (AI - 2019-06 - Casey Research)

A forecast of technological change in what being human means, including tiny wireless brain implants called neurograins; CRISPR genetic editing; the elimination of death; and the associated ethical questions.

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Stanford’s latest AI helps doctors diagnose brain aneurysms more accurately (Brain/AI - 2019-06 - Extreme Tech)

Researchers at Stanford University have created predictive AI to detect the likelihood of aneurysms in three-dimensional brain scans with high accuracy, although this advance will not be available for years. The search for an aneurysm is one of the most labor-intensive and critical tasks radiologists undertake.

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Google shows how AI might detect lung cancer faster and more reliably (AI/Radiology - 2019-05 - MIT Technology Review)

Danial Tse, a researcher at Google, and colleagues trained a deep-learning algorithm to detect malignant lung nodules in more than 42,000 CT scans. The resulting algorithms turned up 11% fewer false positives and 5% fewer false negatives than their human counterparts. The work is described in a paper published in Nature.

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Bioengineers clear major hurdle on path to 3D printing replacement organs (Additive Manufacturing - 2019-05 -

Bioengineers from Rice University and the University of Washington, with other collaborators, have cleared a major hurdle on the path to 3D-printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting tissues. The new innovation allows scientists to create exquisitely entangled vascular networks that mimic the body’s natural passageways for blood, air, lymph and other vital fluids.

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First autonomous navigation inside an organism (Autonomous Catheters/Robotics - 2019-04 -

Bioengineers led by Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital describe a robotic catheter that can navigate autonomously. The catheter found its way along the walls of a beating, blood-filled heart to a leaky valve in an animal model, without a surgeon’s involvement. The device could eliminate the need for fluoroscopic imaging in these types of valve repairs, which exposes patients to ionizing radiation.

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A drone has been used to deliver a donor kidney for the first time (Organ Delivery/Drone - 2019-04 - MIT Technology Review)

A custom-built drone with eight rotors to ensure stability and a special apparatus to control the environment, delivered a donor kidney to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center, ferrying it from a hospital about three miles away. The kidney was then successfully transplanted into a patient with renal failure. It’s the first time a drone has been used to drop off an organ for a transplant.

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DeepMind has made a prototype product that can diagnose eye diseases (Ophthalmology/AI - 2019-04 - MIT Technology Review)

The device scans a patient’s retina to diagnose potential issues in real time. The images are analyzed by DeepMind’s algorithms, which return a detailed diagnosis in about 30 seconds. The prototype system can detect a range of diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration – as accurately as top eye specialists. It may be several years before it is widely available.

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Brain signals translated into speech using artificial intelligence (Brain Speech Translation/AI - 2019-04 - Nature)

Neuroscientists have designed a device that can transform brain signals into speech, modelling the vocal system. Making the leap from single syllables to sentences is technically quite challenging and makes the device impressive. The device transforms brain signals into estimated movements of the vocal tract, and turns these movements into synthetic speech. People who listened to 101 synthesized sentences could understand 70% of the words.

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Researchers create first ever 3D-printed heart using human tissue (Organ Replacement/Additive Manufacturing - 2019-04 - Futurism)

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have 3D-printed a small heart using human tissue that includes vessels, collagen, and biological molecules — a breakthrough that they hope could one day render organ donation obsolete.

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AI cuts lung cancer false positives (Radiology/AI - 2019-03 -

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Screening has a 96% false positive rate. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and its Hillman Cancer Center used a machine learning algorithm to substantially reduce false positives without missing a single case of cancer.

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The pediatric AI that outperformed junior doctors (Pediatrics/AI - 2019-02 - Singularity Hub)

New research from Guangzhou, China, created a natural-language processing AI that is capable of out-performing rookie pediatricians in diagnosing common childhood ailments, using the same deductive reasoning that the doctors use. Currently, experienced pediatricians out-performed the AI.

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Adding a virtual reality twist to robots in the operating room (Operating Room/Robotics - 2019-02 - TechCrunch)

Vicarious Surgical, a Massachusetts start-up backed by Bill Gates and other high-tech company founders, is developing technology for remote surgery. A small robot will be inserted into a patient’s body, and controlled by a remotely-located surgeon using a virtual reality headset.

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AI approach outperformed human experts in identifying cervical pre-cancer (Radiology/AI - 2019-01 -

National Institutes of Health and Global Good researchers have developed a deep-learning algorithm that analyzes digital images of a woman’s cervix, and accurately identifies pre-cancerous changes that require medical attention. The algorithm was better at identifying pre-cancer than a human expert reviewer of Pap tests under the microscope.

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AI and the NHS: How AI will change everything for patients and doctors (Medicine/UK's NHS - 2018-11 - ZDNet)

The UK government’s vision for AI use in the NHS involves transforming the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030. AI could become the first point of contact for the sick, could help healthcare professionals to diagnose medical conditions, and monitor individuals’ health by analysing data from their wearable devices or smart-home sensors.

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Healthcare: 5 digital trends for 2019 and beyond (Medicine - 2018-11 -

Five progressive digital trends for healthcare in 2019 and beyond: 1. Artificial Intelligence (Medical diagnosis, Pharmaceutical product development, Workflow optimization); 2. Big Data & Analytics; 3. The Internet of Medical Things; 4. Telemedicine; 5. VR/AR (Emergency response, Prevention and diagnostics, Surgery, Education, Rehabilitation and emotional recovery).

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Stanford researchers create algorithm to interpret chest x-rays (Medicine - 2018-11 -

A new AI algorithm can reliably screen chest X-rays for 14 different pathologies: For 10, the algorithm performed just as well as radiologists; for 3, it underperformed them; and for 1, it outdid them. In all cases, the algorithm took <1% time. Show full article

3-D-printing cells to produce human tissue (Medicine/Regenerative - 2018-10 -

University of Utah biomedical engineers have developed a method to 3-D-print cells to produce human tissue such as ligaments and tendons, a process that will greatly improve a patient’s recovery.

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3D bioprinting technique could create artificial blood vessels and organ tissue (Medicine - 2018-10 -

City University of Boulder engineers have developed a 3D-printing technique that allows for localized control of an object’s firmness, opening up new biomedical avenues that could one day include artificial arteries and organ tissue. The layer-by-layer printing method features fine-grain, programmable control over rigidity, allowing researchers to mimic the complex geometry of blood vessels that are highly structured and yet must remain pliable.

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3D-printed bones are helping doctors prepare for surgeries (Medicine - 2018-10 -

Orthopaedic surgeons are using scans of actual patient anatomy to 3D-print model bones on which to plan and practice procedures.

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Google AI claims 99% accuracy in metastatic breast cancer detection (Medicine/Radiology - 2018-10 - VentureBeat)

Of the 500,000 deaths worldwide caused by breast cancer, an estimated 90% are the result of metastasis. Researchers at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and Google AI have developed algorithms that autonomously evaluate lymph node biopsies, achieving 99% detection accuracy (compared with human pathologists, who may miss small metastases as much as 62% when under time constraints).

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A new wave of chatbots are replacing physicians and providing frontline medical advice (Medicine/GPs - 2018-10 - MIT Technology Review)

AI chatbot apps, such as Babylon Health, a London-based digital-first health-care provider that is working within the National Health Service, are designed to reduce unnecessary visits to general practitioners, while providing immediate medical advice. Babylon’s AI scored 81% on a version of the final exam of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), 9% higher than the average grade achieved by UK medical students.

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AI algorithm used to adjust treatment dosages for metastatic cancer (Medicine/Personalized treatment - 2018-10 -

National University of Singapore researchers used the CURATE.platform to deliver optimal doses of medication and halt the progression of a patient’s advanced prostate cancer.

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Machine learning outperforms clinicians in predicting outcomes for people at risk of psychosis and depression (Medicine/Psychiatry - 2018-09 -

An Australian research study used a cmbination of machine learning algorithms to accurately predict social outcomes one year later in up to 83% of patients at high risk of psychosis and 70% of patients with recent-onset depression.

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The high cost of surgical robots makes implementation in the UK more difficult than in the US (Medicine/Surgery - 2018-09 - American News)

A summary of the issues relating to the use of surgical robots from the robotics research wing of the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Differences in implementation are reviewed between the US’ private health system and the UK’s public National Health System.

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3D-printed bionic eye prototype could one day restore sight (Medicine/Optometry - 2018-08 - ZDNet)

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have used 3D-printing technologies to create light receptors on a hemispherical surface, a “significant step” towards the creation of synthetic eyes which could either restore sight for the blind or improve levels of sight for the visually impaired.

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New AI system detects hard-to-spot cancerous lesions (Medicine/Imaging - 2018-08 -

A team of engineering and medicine researchers at the University of Central Florida has recently developed a new AI system to spot often-missed cancerous tumours on computerised tomography scans. It was 95% successful (compared with 65% for radiologists).

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Big data and Deep Learning used to predict the fate of inpatients (Medicine/General - 2018-08 - ZDNet)

Researchers from Google Brain and Stanford University are using big data and deep-learning methods to predict the fate of inpatients, including death; readmissions to measure quality of care; a patient’s length of stay to measure of resource utilization; and a prediction of a patient’s diagnoses to see how well clinicians understood a patient’s problems.

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3D-Printing to disrupt medical implants industry (Medicine/Implants - 2018-07 -

Advances in 3D printers, materials and other technology have enabled manufacturers to design and deliver custom-made, high-resolution 3D-printed implants on patient demand.

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AI Neural network matches human cardiologists in detecting heart attacks (Medicine/Cardiology - 2018-07 - MIT Technology Review)

German researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (Berlin) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (Kiel) have developed a neural network that can spot the signs of myocardial infarction, matching the performance of human cardiologists for the first time.

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Innovative robotic technology to detect lung cancer earlier (Medicine/Cancer Detection - 2018-06 -

The Auris Health’s Monarch™ Platform lets specialists using a minimally-invasive endoscope see inside the lungs, obtain a tissue sample for biopsy, and enable earlier, more accurate diagnosis of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung.

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AI is better than dermatologists at diagnosing skin cancer (Medicine/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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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 greater than 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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