Think Fast: This past week, for the first time ever, a robot completed a lung transplant. Now, I don’t expect robots to replace surgeons anytime soon, but the fact that the robot makes a much smaller incision–which allows the patient to recover faster and with less pain–suggests that surgeons will increasingly be aided by robots in the near future.
Think Faster: Radiologists will likely be in the same situation as their surgeon colleagues now that artificial intelligence can detect lung cancers years earlier than even the best-trained professional. Again, I don’t expect all radiologists to be unemployed anytime soon, but they do risk being made redundant if they don’t leverage AI to help them do their jobs better.
Think Different: The FDA now says that lab-grown chicken is safe to eat. This does not mean that consumers will necessarily react positively to the new product. (My prediction is that lab-grown meat will remain a small but growing niche in the consumer marketplace. Over time, I expect that improvements in taste and texture when combined with consumer concerns over the ethical treatment of animals as well as concerns about the meat industry’s contributions to climate change will cause a growing number of consumers to accept and, ultimately, switch to the product.)
Think Harder: New research has found that medications can produce 30 percent fewer side-effects if doctors match dosages with a patient’s DNA. Combined with the recent advances in the 3D-printing of drugs and it is clear that the era of personalized medicine is inching ever-closer to reality.
Think the Unthinkable: I recently spoke to a group of infection control professionals and told them that we are now living in “the age of the pandemic.” One possibility that I hadn’t considered was the widespread accidental release of a number of pathogens. Unfortunately, this is now a distinct possibility due to the fact that one of the warring factions in Sudan has now seized control of a biohazard lab that was dealing with cholera, measles, polio and a variety of other diseases. (In some more uplifting news, Ghana has recently approved a “game-changing” malaria vaccine).
Afterthought: “Physics isn’t the most important thing. Love is.“–Richard Feynman