Robot Performs Heart Surgery, Will Surgeons' Union Go On Strike?
from the scalpel-please dept
Score one for medical technology. The first heart surgery performed solely by a robot took place in Italy this week, while doctors in the US monitored its progress. The robot already had experience from 10,000 human-guided surgeries, data from which it can now reference on its own. In this way, the machine is like an advanced chess computer, onto which trainers can load millions of games for it to reference in game situations. Though doctors are among the biggest costs in healthcare, and technology like this could certainly help save money, we can expect surgeons to fight tooth and nail from letting robots encroach on their territory. They’ll claim, much like top chess players do, that surgery is part art and that a robot could never match the performance of a human. Of course, robots don’t get tired after a long day, stressed out, lose concentration, or have any of the other human traits that affect the quality of surgery. And while doctors make mistakes all the time, robots will be held to a higher standard; after one mistake, there will be calls to curtail their use in medicine. With all due respect, many surgeons are like plumbers who work on an extremely complicated system of pumps and valves — in both cases, technology is reducing the value of their labor.