For the first time, a remotely operated robot performed an operation in the eye of human patients. Other studies have also show that robots can be as good and sometimes better than human surgeons.
As robotics develop we will have improved machines in all aspects. Some of them may be much better than humans in many if not all manual tasks but i still doubt if surgeons will lose their jobs as those machines need to be operated by someone.
- Robotic parts, like motors and sensors need to be much better for this to work. We need precise motors and gears with failsafes so that if something goes wrong, the damage could be minimized.
- Controllers need to be more advanced and have as little lag as possible so that surgeons get a realistic view and a responsive control system when operating.
- Surgeons need to be trained to deal with any technical problem and to be good enough so that the robot seems more like an extension of themselves.
But as we keep seeing lately such machines will eventually become necessary especially for parts like the eye that are very fragile and require very precise movements. In some cases operations in the eye appear impossible for a human but studies report that a robot could perform them.
But what if in the future a robot fails, or even the operator makes a mistake?
In the past the equipment was a relatively small part of the operation, but when the equipments is what makes the operation possible, when you know that the doctor is unable to treat your problem without his robot and when something fails, who do you blame?
I think there will be clear rules before such technology becomes mainstream, and that when this happens, patients will have to know that this tool as any other might fail. There are always risks in every operation and being realistic helps. But i am sure there will eventually be someone who tries to sue a doctor for such a thing. And then there may be a financial motive but… as with any automated technology that human lives depend on there will be some controversy. Just like with autonomous cars.
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