The future is around the corner

I have mentioned various examples of technological advances in previous blogs and have discussed how the speed of change is accelerating to a point where we cannot really envisage what the world will look like in as little as five years.

Most of my knowledge has come from research, and it is easy to believe that much of this technological advance is locked away in universities or in Silicon Valley. Therefore it is easy to dismiss it as not relevant to the person in the street.

However, this idea was dispelled recently in a most surprising way. I was at a symphony concert recently where I bumped into a young doctor friend who specialises in gynaecology and whose wife is a doctor in the maternity ward.

Normally our conversations revolve around his son’s basketball matches, but on this day the conversation got around to technology. Imagine my surprise when he told me that he now routinely uses robots in the operation theatre.

He explained how the arms of the robots are inserted through small incisions and then controlled by him at a console about four feet away. The first insertion is a 360-degree camera and then there are a wide variety of options for tools to be added to the robot arms.

The advantages of such a system include:

• Shorter hospitalization.
• Reduced pain and discomfort.
• Faster recovery time and return to normal activities.
• Smaller incisions, resulting in reduced risk of infection.
• Reduced blood loss and transfusions.
• Minimal scarring.
• Ability to work with more than two ’hands’
At the moment the distance from patient to doctor is about four feet, but it is a small step for the doctor to be in another room, another building or another town or country. There is even work going on with artificial intelligence to get robots to do the work unaided.

The following video shows my friend at work along with his taste in classical music! I now wonder whether it will be long before the robot will be sitting next to me in the concert!

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