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Intelligent Machines: The jobs robots will steal first

Intelligent Machines The jobs robots will steal first BBC News


A robot may not yet have a good bedside manner but it is pretty good at wading through huge reams of data to find possible treatments for diseases.

IBM's supercomputer Watson is teaming up with a dozen hospitals in the US, offering advice on the best treatments for a range of cancers. Using vision software developed by the firm, it is also helping to spot early-stage skin cancers.

And robots have for years been helping doctors perform surgery - at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, for example, robots assist doctors with keyhole kidney surgery. Speed is a crucial factor in the success of such operations and the robots are able to sew blood vessels connecting donor kidneys far more quickly than humans.

Robotic surgery is not foolproof though and a recent safety report found that machine-based surgeries were linked to at least 144 deaths in the US over the last decade.

For the moment, robot and man work side-by-side in medicine but that may not always be the case.

"Doctors in particular aren't likely to graciously cede control of their patients' treatment to synthetic intellects," writes Jerry Kaplan in his book Humans Need Not Apply.

"But eventually, when outcomes demonstrate that this is the better option, patients will demand to see the attentive robot, not the overworked doctor, for a fraction of the fee."

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I believe robots will be increasingly helpful in medicine and in hospitals. 

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