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Will Robotics Become The Future Of Healthcare?

The market for robotics used in healthcare is set to increase exponentially over the coming years, increasing the sophistication of medical care, but perhaps leaving many medical professionals fearing for their jobs.

The advancement in technological innovation has seen an increase in computers and robots taking the place of humans, and the practice is to become commonplace among healthcare providers.

According to research published by Tractica, the market for “surgical robots, hospital robots, and rehabilitation robots, will grow in revenue from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $2.8 billion by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7%”.

Robotics and HealthcareFinancial Buzz states that healthcare robot shipments will “increase from approximately 3,400 units annually in 2016, to more than 10,500 units per year by 2021, with more than 38,400 cumulative units shipped during the forecasted period”.

Robots have been perfected to conduct the jobs that are currently undertaken by humans, including: surgery, prosthetic limbs, hospital logistics, cleaning robots, disinfectant robots, robots used for rehabilitation, administration and many other areas.

Critics argue that surgical robots are unable to provide the accuracy that humans can offer, while others argue the opposite. It’s a debate that is quite literally open for debate and only time will reveal the outcome.

Although the technology is relatively new, Tractica research predicts that surgical robots “will be eclipsed by exoskeletons and prosthetics by the end of 2021” and even further technological advancements will be evident within the next 10 years.

Google recently struck a deal with Johnson & Johnson to develop surgical robots that use artificial intelligence. Google’s life sciences division is set to work with Ethicon to create a robotics-assisted surgical platform to help doctors in the operating room.

Bionik Laboratories, one of the United States’ leading technology firms, has devised the InMotion AnkleBot, an exoskeletal robotic system. The company states that their new robots use the same design principles used in InMotion rehabilitation systems.

Experts at MIT, from the Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation, devised the AnkleBot which is helping to rehabilitate and improve research in many clinics across the United States.

“surgical robots, hospital robots, and rehabilitation robots, will grow in revenue from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $2.8 billion by 2021″

While, Accuray Incorporated has developed the CyberKnife System for low and intermediate-risk prostate cancer, which provides proven long-term results.

According to company statistics, the disease-free survival rate for low-risk prostate cancer patients was 100 percent, and for intermediate-risk patients it was 88.5 percent.

The CyberKnife System was designed to deliver “SBRT, a treatment process enabling the delivery of radiation throughout the body, with an extremely high degree of precision”. The system’s unique selling point is its ability to track and correct itself for movement of the prostate or tumor itself, which can move up to 10mm during surgery sessions.

Not only are robotics becoming more mainstream in surgical procedures but are also more prevalent in other areas of hospital management and implementation.

Cleaning personnel and administrative staff are being replaced at a rapid rate, and other areas are improving due to computer technology.

What’s more, robotics are most definitely changing the way hospital staff and patients fit within the healthcare system. Although the technology may revolutionize the healthcare industry, the impact it will have on the workforce remains to be seen.

Satellite Imaging Technology Is Changing How We See The World

Whilst others are focusing on the issue of space travel, emerging satellite companies have turned their attention much closer to home. With businesses like Planet Labs leading the charge, impressive jumps in the advancement of satellite imaging technology are about to revolutionize the way we view Earth from outer space.

Planet Labs, a company founded in 2010 by former NASA scientists, has quickly boomed into one of the biggest competitors in the industry, even taking over Google’s Terra Bella and SkySat satellite constellation. Since their record launch of 88 satellites into space (named “Doves” by the company), a total of 149 satellites are reportedly used for their operations, providing the highest resolution and comprehensive satellite imaging available to the public.

Satellite Imaging Technology FactboxThis is just the start of their ambitions. Their sights are now set on developing innovative ways to apply this information to our everyday world, and they’re not alone.

Competitors such as UrtheCast are gearing up for the challenge, with their OptiSAR™ Constellation in the works. Should it be successful, the company will be able to consistently provide high-resolution imagery unaffected by weather conditions or the time of the day.

Other Notes Amid Satellite Imaging Technology Talks

Discussions concerning how this will change our world have already begun, with forward-thinkers constantly finding new ways to utilize this immense amount of data to solve real-world problems. Enhancing safety, monitoring natural resources and aiding natural disaster responses are only a few ideas that have been proposed thus far.

Some of the more controversial proposals for using the satellite imagery include multi-national corporation competition vetting and intelligence spying. Is it objectively fair that the elite may soon have complete access to the entire globe’s visuals on a daily basis? What sort of advantages could this technology give in-the-know governments in international negotiations involving another country’s resources or militant situations? Regardless of whether it is being fair or not, Planet Labs is already accommodating over 100 customers with its satellite imaging technology. We hope the positives greatly outweigh the negatives with this huge leap forward in technology. As usual, the many possibilities conjectured by this bold idea are limited only by our imagination.

Humans Should Work With Machines Not Against Them

Humans should learn to work with machines, not compete against them. This was the bold statement of a premier tech researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on the issue of humans being replaced by robots in the workforce.

In an interview with the Straits Times, MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee maintains that machines are best at repetitive tasks and humans cannot compete on that level.  This is why, he said, humans should leave repetitive labor to computers and robots, which would leave time for them to work on scientific discoveries, art and graphic design, and creative writing.

The statement is linked somewhat to an earlier proposition made by billionaire and tech influencer Elon Musk who suggested merging the human brain with artificial intelligence. The unorthodox suggestion would keep humans from becoming obsolete in the robot age.

Dr. McAfee for his part, maintains that construction and assembly work, like manufacturing, can be done more cheaply with automated devices. With fewer people involved in manufacturing, the cost of production would become even lower. There are other jobs where computers are more adept, including financial analysis. Computers now do a lot more stock market trading, at a much faster pace and with more funds.

MSN.com earlier reported 21 industries or niches where humans have already experienced replacement by machines. These include factory workers, chefs, surgeons, retail sales associates, security guards, shepherds, farmers, pharmacists, food delivery drivers, soldiers, receptionists, telemarketers, construction workers, tour guides and much more. Even cab drivers could soon be replaced with flying drone taxis – something that Dubai is already looking at implementing as early as April this year.

Humans Should Play to Their Strengths

“no better time to be an entrepreneur with a great idea, because you can use technology to leverage your inventions”

Still, Dr. McAfee maintains that even if mass production is not their strong suit, humans are in a better position to create businesses. He noted that technology entrepreneurs would always be in demand. These are people who would be starting businesses with computers and software. Dr. McAfee states that there is “no better time to be an entrepreneur with a great idea, because you can use technology to leverage your inventions”. By leveraging technology and getting creative, a great idea can develop into a much needed solution.

More importantly, he underscored that the biggest task that any government can do to make the best use of its human resources is education. People should be educated to learn the new rules and techniques of surviving in a world where automation and mass production have made much of the manual labor obsolete.

The education system is in need of bold ideas and big changes fast. Today’s education system still answers the needs of 50 years ago, instead of addressing today’s or tomorrow’s requirements.

While the MIT professional may not agree with the fact that people are being trained at things which can be better done by machines, computers and automation, he says people need to feed their curiosity, intellectual pursuits, develop problem solving skills, collaboration, and management. These kinds of skills are the ones needed for bold ideas to be born and take root, something which machines are not capable of just yet.  These key areas will need human creativity and we are irreplaceable on that front, for now.