When Caregiver Robots Come for Grandma

Failing the Third Machine Age: When [Caregiver] Robots Come for GrandmaWhen Robots Come for Grandma is a long and thought-provoking article by Zeynep Tufekci in 2014 that builds a case against “caregiver robots,” arguing that they are both inhumane and economically destructive.

She got me thinking, and I hope this has the same effect on you. I would have liked to add my own perspectives with links to related articles here at Modern Health Talk. I’d start with Will Robots Take Over in Health Care? Unfortunately there was no space to add comments, so I use her article as a basis for mine and hope you’ll share your thoughts in the space I give below. Read More …

Wall-E and The End of Work

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I’m reposting this article with new information from a U.N. report that warns countries to prepare for the day when technology, automation, and artificial intelligence replaces jobs. They expect 75% of the world population to become unemployable, and that day is coming sooner than most people realize. It will have immense social consequences.

Wall-E is a fun & warm-hearted animated movie by Pixar that also warns against ignoring environmental pollution and the obesity epidemic. It presents future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology-dominated world set some 700 years in the future. By then, mankind had so completely trashed Earth’s environment that humans were forced to relocate to spaceships and evolved into large, floating fat blobs – the Axioms.

But the future doesn’t have to be as foretold. We learned that from the classic movie, A Christmas Carol. By knowing the risks of possible futures that our current behavior may take us to, we can change. We can change course to save the environment, improve our health & well being, and find solutions to wide unemployment.

I hope you enjoy the video clips below, as well as the additional links and discussion that follows.

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Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

This image represents Artificial Intelligence, a digital mind that can learn and act on its own. According to a recent article in MedicalFuturist.com, artificial intelligence (AI) will redesign health care with unimaginable potential. The author sees great benefits, and so do I, but he dispels the risks – risks that visionaries like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking warn against. They warn that full development of AI could spell the end of the human race, and I share that concern. That’s why I’m writing today’s article with a cautionary tone.

The accelerating pace of change

At issue is whether or not man will find ways to guard against the dangers of tech innovation accelerating exponentially and indefinitely. The questions start with, what will AI, automation and robotics eventually do to employment? Which jobs will be replaced first, and which are safe for now? What might AI do for (or to) government? I don’t share the author’s confidence and instead side with the visionaries. Here’s why. Read More …

101 MiniTrends in Health Care

Watch for Trends Ahead

This image is from MiniTrends, a book by John Vanston that I strongly endorse. I’ve known John for years and did consulting work for his company, Technology Futures. His book inspired my Modern Health Talk vision. (Click image to see book. Go to end to hear about the MiniTrends conference.)

“What the Hell is happening to health care?”

“And is it an Opportunity or a Threat?”

Insights by Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk.

An awful lot has changed in just the last few years and even more will change in the near future, with the aim of reducing (or at least containing) our health care costs. What’s behind these MiniTrends, and what is their implication for providers, payers and consumers? That’s the $1.5 trillion question. Here I talk about many, many MiniTrends–surely you can find 101 of them if you look! 

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

That quote is important, because 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today. That’s a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain, because they know they must adapt to the megatrend of health reform and Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) or die. And they are looking down with fear at the hungry competitors who are already exploiting the many related minitrends, because for them these are times of great opportunity.

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Movies about the Future of Health Care?

What movies do you think create the best vision of the future of health care? And what scene is particularly memorable with great foresight? Please comment.

Here’s a list of Movies about the Future of Health Care compiled by Modern Health Talk:

Wall-EWall-E” is a warm-hearted commentary on environmental pollution that portrays future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology dominated world.

Robot and Frank” shows the challenges and benefits of companion robots for the elderly who don’t warm easily to technology. Read More …

I-Limb: Bionic hand controlled by iPhone app

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows you the latest in prosthetic technology: bionic hands controlled from an iPhone app. (from YouTube)

 

Related Articles

Dr. Oz on Technology in Medicine

While many doctors naturally disagree, Dr. Oz believes the future of medicine will depend more on technology than doctors. “I see the car, which is right now one of the most unused spaces in our lives, becoming a mobile examination suite for you,” says the heart surgeon, turned talk show host. “It can weigh you and tell how stressed you are by how you grip the steering wheel, the sweat on your fingers, and heart rate variability.” (1:29 VIDEO, below)

As a technologist watching this space and reporting on health & wellness innovations at CES, I concur with Dr. Oz and have explored the effect of technology, automation and healthcare robots and on jobs. That’s why I was attracted by this CBS 60 Minutes segment on The March of the Machines and how automation is likely to effect the job market, including positions in medicine. Read More …

Will Robots Take Over in Health Care?

A robot Jimmy Fallon.  Photo by Peter Yang

Tech solutions for home healthcare naturally include healthcare robots, some of which can enhance our physical abilities or make up for disabilities, while others assist healthcare workers or in some cases replace their jobs entirely. But what does the future hold for such devices? Will robots take over? And if a robot replaces your job, what will you do next? I addressed these questions previously from two different perspectives in Automation, Robots and The Pink Collar Future. Today I extend the series based on the latest issue of WIRED, which explores the future of tech innovation, robots and automation. It’s a long and well done article that I can’t reproduce here, so I’ll just include some highlights and the reader comment I added.

In an opening essay, comedian Jimmy Fallon asks, “Why hire a human when a machine can do it better and faster?” Better Than Human: Why Robots Will — And Must — Take Our Jobs

Consider the effect that automation has already had. Two hundred years ago, 70% of American workers lived on farms. Automation in the Industrial Age has since eliminated all but 1% of farm workers, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines. But the displaced workers did not sit idle. They moved to cities to work in factories and industry, filling millions of  entirely new jobs. But change in the Information Age is happening more quickly, and many fear that technology is replacing jobs faster than creating new ones. That anyway is the perspective I added in my comment. Read More …

Health & Medicine Outlook 2013

Click on the magazine cover to see more forecasts collected in the World Future Society’s annual Outlook reports.“Human actions could become more accurately predictable, thanks to neuroscience. Nano-sized robots will deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to their targets. And though many recently lost jobs may never come back, people will find plenty to do (and get paid for) in the future,” according to forecasts you’ll find in this roundup of the most thought-provoking possibilities and ideas published in The Futurist magazine over the past year.

I’ve extracted the following Health & Medicine forecasts from the World Future Society’s special report, Outlook 2013. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist.

  • Better health, but fewer doctors.
    A projected shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by 2020 will drive technological innovations such as low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics—i.e., Lab-on-a-Chip technologies. A cell-phone-sized device could analyze your blood or sputum while you talk to a health provider from the comfort of your home. —Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, “The Abundance Builders,” July-Aug 2012,p. 17
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Automation, Robots and The Pink Collar Future

Editor’s note: Last night I participated in “I am Robot. Hear me roar,” an online discussion hosted by HuffPost Live and using Google+ Hangouts to support several people connected via webcam. The discussion questioned how automation can make human workers obsolete. Will robots make your own job as a caretaker obsolete? I was asked to participate because of my interest in tech futures that include Healthcare Robots. Jamais Cascio also participated and offered some quite interesting insights. He shared the following article with the audience and gave me permission to republish it here.

Different perspectives: Following the article are two videos.
First is a PBS report that looks at robots and automation as replacing human workers. It’s what many Democrats worry about, and many unemployed workers complain about.
Second is a heart-warming movie trailer from Robot and Frank, which opens in theaters this month and gives a rosier view of technology that’s more like a friendly assistant than a job killer. This optimistic view is similar to the picture Republicans paint, but with no worry about those left behind and unemployed.
So which is it? Just as futurists consider different scenarios and what may lead to their preferred version of the future, you too can decide which version you like and either help make it happen for yourself, or prevent it from happening to others. As you think about this, realize that technology won’t slow down, but its impact on society can be controlled with smart policy decisions. Add your own perspectives below.

Robot Images

The Pink Collar Future

By Jamais Cascio, futurist, writer, speaker and founder of Open The Future

The claim that robots are taking our jobs has become so commonplace of late that it’s a bit of a cliché. Nonetheless, it has a strong element of truth to it. Not only are machines taking “blue collar” factory jobs — a process that’s been underway for years, and no longer much of a surprise except when a company like Foxconn announces it’s going to bring in a million robots (which are less likely to commit suicide, apparently) — but now mechanized/digital systems are quickly working their way up the employment value chain. “Grey collar” service workers have been under pressure for awhile, especially those jobs (like travel agent) that involve pattern-matching; now jobs involving the composition of structured reports (such as basic journalism) have digital competition, and Google’s self-driving car portends a future of driverless taxicabs. But even “white collar” jobs, managerial and supervisory in particular, are being threatened — in part due to replacement, and in part due to declining necessity. After all, if the line workers have been replaced by machines, there’s little need for direct human oversight of the kind required by human workers, no? Stories of digital lawyers and surgeons simply accelerate the perception that robots really are taking over the workplace, and online education systems like the Khan Academy demonstrate how readily university-level learning can be conducted without direct human contact.

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10 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for the Next 25 YearsFORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future.

That’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

The following ten forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, Forecasts for the Next 25 Years. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #3. Nanotechnology offers hope for restoring eyesight.

Flower-shaped electrodes topped with photodiodes, implanted in blind patients’ eyes, may restore their sight. The “nanoflowers” mimic the geometry of neurons, making them a better medium than traditional computer chips for carrying photodiodes and transmitting the collected light signals to the brain. Read More …

Robotic arms help dress the elderly & physically disabled

Taking clothes on and off are essential activities in daily life, but for elderly and physically challenged people this can be difficult due to limited mobility in the upper limbs.

A Breakthrough in Robotics: WAM™ Arms at NAIST Aid in Dressing the Elderly and Infirm

Robotic arms help dress the elderly or disabled

Barrett's WAM(TM) robotic arms help to dress the elderly and physically disabled.

CAMBRIDGE, MA–(Marketwire – Nov 10, 2011) – The Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), of Japan, has created the world’s first robot system that learns to clothe elderly and physically disabled people. Leveraging the concept of “skills transfer” from a human caregiver to a robot, “reinforcement learning” takes place in minutes, gracefully adapting to the individual size and shape of the person being dressed. Barrett Technology, Inc. manufactures the patented robotic arms and is working closely with NAIST researchers. This international collaboration has been a seamless synthesis of Barrett’s contact-compliant hardware and NAIST’s advanced computer intelligence.

Many benefits of modern medicine are helping baby-boomers live well into their 80s and 90s. At the same time couples are having fewer children, thereby constraining family care givers. Many older people want the dignity of independence but often require assistance with basic activities, such as cooking, bathing, and dressing. Increasingly, robots are playing vital roles in solving quality-of-life issues for this growing segment of our population.

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Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

World Future Society's special report on 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025FORESIGHT may be the single most critical skill for the 21st Century.

Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to anticipate and navigate change, make good decisions, and take action to create a better future. It’s why I’ve been a member of the Central Texas chapter of the World Future Society for years, where I meet interesting people with widely varied perspectives of the future. It’s also why I participate in so many Linkedin discussion groups on emerging healthcare issues.

9 Forecasts for the Future of Healthcare

The following nine forecasts came from the World Future Society’s special report, 20 Forecasts for 2011-2025. It’s a promotional piece to attract new members who then get a subscription to The Futurist magazine.

Forecast #1: The Race for Genetic Enhancements Will Be What the Space Race Was in the 20th Century. Genetic therapies and biomedical enhancements will be a multibillion-dollar industry. New techniques will enable doctors to change your DNA to revitalize old or diseased organs, enhance your appearance, increase your athletic ability, or boost your intelligence.

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Technology may hinder job growth (and change medicine)

IBM extends its Jeopardy-winning Watson supercomputer into Medicine and other industries

I talk to lots of jobseekers who can’t find jobs with benefits, especially if they’re seniors over age 55, so I found this Reuters article, Rise in machines may hinder job growth, especially interesting and added the following comment.

Extend Moore’s Law out 50 years and consider the labor implications of futurist predictions that could all happen in our lifetime. By 2013, a supercomputer (e.g. IBM’s Watson) will have the reasoning and processing capacity of the Human Brain. By 2023, a $1,000 home computer will have that power; and by 2037, a $0.01 embedded computer will. By 2049, a $1,000 computer will have the power of the human Race; and by 2059, a $0.01 computer will. Imagine the labor (and healthcare) implications. Google today only searches and finds information. It doesn’t interpret it or turn it into insight. It’s not self-aware, yet. And other nations are advancing broadband Internet faster than here, which enables offshore outsourcing. Since there are already much faster connections to India than Indiana, all US knowledge-based jobs are at risk, including lawyers and radiologists, but maybe not politician jobs, since they arguably aren’t knowledge based.   🙂

In Lessons from Healthcare Innovation in India, this nation has found ways to serve a large, poor and rural population with limited resources (doctors are scarce: 1 per 100,000 people versus 1/160 in the U.S.). But India’s innovation was mostly due to process engineering, rather than technology per say. I can only imagine the results when both are combined and then reflect on the labor force questions posed by the Reuters article (and the future of healthcare).

How do you think tech innovation will affect healthcare and jobs? Weigh in with a comment below.

Robot Exoskeleton helps man walk after 20yrs

ReWalk™ is a wheelchair alternative for individuals with severe walking impairments, enabling them to stand, walk, ascend/descent stairs and more.

The video shows Radi Kaiof, a former Israeli paratrooper who was injured on duty. He demonstrates the promise ReWalk has for the future. The current version costs about $150,000, has an 8 hour battery life, and is in clinical trial testing at MossRehab in suburban Philadelphia. We hope to see devices like this on the market soon at affordable prices.