The day we waited for and, in all honesty feared, is finally here- the robots have taken over. No they haven’t overthrown mankind and turned us “weaklings” into their slaves. Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) have penetrated into many spectrums of our lives, including the healthcare sector.

We should all be happy albeit a bit scared, since with all good things, there are bad things as well, as the old saying goes, “there are two sides to a coin.” Robots and artificial intelligence in general have seen constant improvement since the 80’s, and 2016 seems to be the highlight year.

Robot Dinosaur For Facial Recognition… Err… What’s That?

Japan, which is known for its fair share of weird stuff, has not seen something this cool for a very long time. The Henn-na Hotel, in Nagasaki, is entirely automated, from the robot dinosaur check-in to the facial-recognition lock system and the banks of vending machines that replace the dining room. Japan is leading the charge of automation with 250,000 industrial robots, it was totally expected that Japan would go this route.

 

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Cars That Drive All By Themselves

We’ve seen “self-driving cars”, well not exactly driverless, but pretty close, as Tesla is the forefront at merging AI with cars, and with driverless trains as an example of Line14 metro train in Paris, the automotive industry has never been more exciting than it is now.

 

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Are We Having Robot Surgeons Anytime Soon?

Now we come to the juicy and in all honesty the best bit. The Healthcare Sector. 2016 has been a winning year for health-focused AI. Robots managed to outperform humans at surgery.

According to a study, published in the Science Translational Medicine journal on 4th May, 2016, a surgery performed on a pig’s intestines turned out to be the equivalent in quality to a surgery performed by experienced surgeons.

All experiments were performed by a “Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot” (STAR). STAR made surgical stitches on a pig’s intestines using its own smart tools, optics and decision-making capabilities. Skilled surgeons were given the same task of stitching pig’s intestines, in which STAR outperformed them. The researchers believed that by assigning the surgical tasks to autonomous robots, the outcomes of 44.5 million soft tissue surgeries performed each year in the US could be improved.

 

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Robots To Decipher Mammogram Results Quickly And With 99% Accuracy

Breast cancer, which for the most part remained one of the many cancer types that unfortunately has not seen much innovation recently, managed to see much needed technological advancement.

Researchers on 29th August, 2016, from Houston Methodist have designed artificial intelligence software that can understand mammogram results 30 times quicker than doctors and with 99% accuracy. The research revealed that software was able to transform patient chart information into useful diagnostic data that the physicians could use for review at quick speeds.

This meant that Artificial intelligence enabled breast cancer to be detected quicker.

Two Robots Are Better Than One

Moreover, researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, completed work on a European Union project aimed at advancing collaborative artificial intelligence — robots were enabled to coordinate with one another and help each other in the performance of complex tasks such as surgery, through body language, without help from another human.

 

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In conclusion it’s a fascinating time to be alive. One might fear losing his job to a robotic machine, but need not worry too much. As in the case of healthcare, the human connection one has with his caretaker/physician is all the more necessary, and can’t be replaced by a mechanical touch.

Not to forget the joy one feels while driving on a long road listening to 80’s top of the charts playlist on a starry night.