National Geographic : 2019 Jan
they may be answering information and triage calls. A chatbot nurse will try to learn what ails you by ask- ing about your symptoms and tapping into data from your wearable devices and the crowdsourced health records of others like you. Should your complaint be psychological more than physical, you can seek counseling from a virtual therapist programmed to converse as a human would, offer self-help guidance, and lend a sympathetic ear. Robots may participate in care during face-to-face encounters as well. Consider the robotic phleboto- mist, equipped to ultrasonically confirm which vein is the best target, then draw blood or insert an IV. In countries short on human caregivers, caretaker robots may be employed to lift and move patients, as well as interact socially. And robots programmed as physical therapy coaches can help patients stick with their exercise regimes. IT’S GREAT TO BENEFIT from all this technological progress, but it’s just as important to spread it. In 2016 an estimated 3.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries died because they lacked access to health care. And even more people in those countries—an estimated five million—died because they got poor-quality care. We can change that, starting today, by sharing the wealth of new medical technologies and other health and wellness resources. j Daniel Kraft is a physician-scientist trained at Stanford and Harvard. He serves as faculty chair for medicine at Singularity University and is founder and chair of Exponential Medicine, a program that explores the convergence of accelerating tech- nologies and their implications for the future of health care. THE BIG IDEA | MEDICINE REGAINING MOBILITY Robotic Support For patients with severe mobility problems such as partial paralysis, scientists are developing robot- ics that enfold and support like an exoskeleton. The devices are pro- grammed to guide the body through motions—such as helping a stroke victim walk—that can rebuild posture and strength. — NATASHA DALY FROM TOP, TISSUE IMAGE: CANCER GENOME ATLAS; HEAT MAP: NICOLAS COUDRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE; PHOTO: MARCEL VAN DEN BERGH AI ANALYSIS The Sharp Eyes of AI Correctly identifying the cancer cells in a lung tissue sample (below left) is key to successful treatment. It’s also an ideal diagnostic use of artificial intelligence. In one study, the same AI that Google uses to identify objects online was trained to recognize forms of cancer. It then found two forms in a tissue sample (below right) as accurately as a human could, in seconds. AI also has been used to model the precise dos- age of a cancer drug to shrink tumors but cause minimal toxic side effects. — LC For the sample at left, AI produced the analysis at right, showing normal lung tissue (gray) and two forms of cancer: adenocarcinoma (red) and squamous cell carcinoma (blue).