The future of medical technology

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The future of medical technology

Technology, and the future of health care For centuries the art of medicine has been dominated by bumps, bruises, or other symptoms, felt by the patient or discovered by the physician, with eyes ever-magnified by increasingly sophisticated scanning technology: the microscope, the x-ray, and eventually the MRI. But however powerful the machine, the underlying model remained the same. To find the illness, doctors first had to look for the symptom. To diagnose the cancer, they had to see the tumor. To find a drug, they had to undergo a long, costly, and laborious process of trial and error, trying millions of natural compounds on animals to find one that seemed to work.This approach to medicine may be coming to an end. As drug discovery becomes an information-based science, speeded by rapid increases in computer processing power and the marriage of test tubes with microchips, we are transforming the way we diagnose and treat many of the worst human diseases (Gottlieb, 2003). “Moore's law and its many derivatives suggest that just about any limit on computing power today will be overcome in short order”(Wolf, 2008, para.14 ). It is then conceivable to imagine that the pace of technological advancements will also continue to increase. Already this exponential growth of advancements have impacted our daily lives in every way possible, from the way we communicate; mobile communication, Wi-Fi, and fiber optics, etc., Interact; Text, email, and, social media etc. To the way and speed in which we are able to access and exchange information; search engines, blogs, etc. It is however, in the field of medicine and health care that some of the greatest advancements are being made.In his article for The New Atlantis, a journal on technology and society, Mr. Scott Gottlieb also stated that “In a breathtaking paradigm shift, medicine is moving from the species level — the ingrained assumption that drugs and diseases work the same in all human beings — to the individual level, unlocking new healing possibilities in the minute differences between seemingly similar diseases and their individual victims. The result will be a new age of medical therapy, dominated not by cell, tissue, and organ replacements but by early diagnosis and individualized drug treatments” (2003, para. 2). To highlight technology’s role in this change, he goes on to say, “To understand this new scientific paradigm, first consider how it is changing the way doctors diagnose disease. In conventional medicine, diagnosis remains mostly the art of neglecting remote dangers in favor of likelier ones. Diagnostic tools are often too expensive or too inaccurate to be deployed widely. But in the near future, diagnostic gene chips will rely not on spying crude symptoms but detecting the underlying molecular processes that trigger disease in the weeks, months, or years before the patient feels a twinge.” (para. 3). While Mr. Gottlieb in this quote was making reference to one specific are of medical technology, the analogy could be applied to almost all areas of medicine, four of which we chose to highlight in this glog.Advancements in nanotechnology, augmented reality, 3D printing, and prosthetics are just a few of the areas of medicine where technology will have a huge impact. All of this points to a certain fact, that the future of healthcare will be vastly different from it is today. Whether it through smaller changes such as shorter hospital times or even to eliminating or reducing traditional hospital visits, or the replacement of complex organs developed by technology. Or as some people such as; Futurist Ray Kurzweil, as written by Gary Wolf, in an article for Wired magazine believes, that the speed of technological advancements will render biological man as we know it, obsolete. Mr. Kurzweil, along with mathematician and professor Vernon Vinge, are of the belief that "Within 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence," Vinge wrote at the beginning of his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era. "Shortly after, the human era will be ended." According to Vinge, superintelligent machines will take charge of their own evolution, creating ever smarter successors. Humans will become bystanders in history, too dull in comparison with their devices to make any decisions that matter (Wolf, 2008)”, while according to Wolf, “Kurzweil transformed the singularity from an interesting speculation into a social movement. His best-selling books The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near cover everything from unsolved problems in neuroscience to the question of whether intelligent machines should have legal rights. But the crucial thing that Kurzweil did was to make the end of the human era seem actionable: He argues that while artificial intelligence will render biological humans obsolete, it will not make human consciousness irrelevant. The first AIs will be created, he says, as add-ons to human intelligence, modeled on our actual brains and used to extend our human reach. AIs will help us see and hear better. They will give us better memories and help us fight disease. Eventually, AIs will allow us to conquer death itself. The singularity won't destroy us, Kurzweil says. Instead, it will immortalize us (Wolf, 2008, para. 3)”.

References: Gottleib, S.(2003), "The Future of Medical Technology," The New Atlantis, Number 1, pp. 79-87. Retrieved from URL http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-future-of-medical-technology.Wolf, G. (2008), Futurist Ray Kurzweil Pulls Out All the Stops (and Pills) to Live to Witness the Singularity, Wired Magazine, Retrieved from URL http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/16-04/ff_kurzweil?currentPage=all.


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