International Journal of Surgery 17 (2015) 99
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Editorial e May 2015 This mini editorial with no perspectives on the articles is because by the time you read this I will be operating and teaching in Cambodia where I am leading a team as part of Hernia International. It is said that artiﬁcial intelligence is taking over our world and that within this century many of the jobs open to us at present will be performed by robots. Our children may be unemployed and our grand children are certainly threatened. We need only to look in our own lifetime how many tasks have been taken over by computers and robots. One hardly sees a human in a warehouse where automated lifts etc stack and fetch. Aero-planes ﬂy on automatic pilot; driverless cars are now a reality. Most acts performed by accountants, architects, and lawyers can be performed by computers. The teachers profession may be a job of the past with self learning and holographic teaching taking over. What about our profession? Blood analysis and other tests are carried out by machines. Computers could make the diagnosis from a greater data bank than our memories and possibly more accurately. There is no doubt in my mind that computer analysis of ECGs would be better than my interpretation and the computers could sort out ﬂuid balance and nutritional replacement better. Imaging is done by machines (except U/S at present) and the results could be analyzed by computer. If accurate histories are given by patients to a programmed computer the diagnosis and treatment could be returned. When I was a student my pockets were full
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsu.2015.04.034 1743-9191/© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of IJS Publishing Group Limited.
with a tape measure, stethoscope, torch, patellar hammer, etc. Who uses these now with modern technology. So physicians could be redundant. What about surgeons? The placement of a guide wire for a fractured hip or breast biopsy is better performed by a robot. The precision given by the DaVinci robot to perform a radical prostatectomy or low anterior resection is quite outstanding. Yes, in the last two instances surgeons use the robot. But it is not a huge leap forward to the robot being programmed to perform the procedure. Yes, there will still be the need for a surgeon to be present should something go wrong, BUT, there would only be the need say for one surgeon to cover 6 operating rooms; rather like anaesthesiologists now work. So one junior surgeon to wheel in the robot and place the patient and instruments/ports and one senior surgeon to oversee the operations. For 6 operating rooms 10- 16 surgeons will no longer be necessary. Brave new world or reality? Is it time to train less doctors and more computer programmers? Both frightening and wonderous all at the same time. I may not see it, but some of you young trainees might. R. David Rosin, Professor University of the West Indies, Barbados E-mail address: [email protected]