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 to the most effective part of our bodies at the required frequency and dosage, using automatic dispensers, attached externally, or internally using nanobots.
  • All medical testing (bloodwork, 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 (as the Da Vinci Surgical System has been doing since 2000).
  • Defective organs will be replaced by transplants built from our own stem cells.
  • Limbs and eyes will be replaced by brain-controlled prosthetics 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. 




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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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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Microscopic robots made from spirulina can travel inside the body guided by magnets (Robotics - 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 bio-compatible and, being shaped like a coiled spring, is very manoeuvrable. 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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The first robot that could be licensed to practise medicine (Robotics - 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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Unique automated handheld dental drill allows perfect preparations in fewer and shorter visits (no surgical skill required) (Robotics/Dentistry - 2017-10 - 2017 Angel Forum - Vancouver)

Dontics has patented a unique automated handheld dental drill. It allows perfect preparations in fewer and 80% shorter visits, with no surgical skill required. Example Crowns: 15min in 1-visit down from 2hrs over 2-visits. Management includes leading medical device developer and practising dentist.

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Swallowable robots could be the future of healthcare (Robotics/Drug Delivery - 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-millimetre 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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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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Toyota completes 1st in-home human support robot trial in North America (Robotics/Home Support - 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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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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Robots adapt to human unpredictability (Robotics/Physical Therapy - 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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Panasonic unveils human-like companion robot (Robotics/Caregiving - 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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