Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Medical technology

Where do we want medicine in our future to be?  The distance into the future is not very great, and is on the other side of what might be considered a dark age.  Keep in mind that most of the improvement in human lifespan has come from public health measures, antibiotics, and (in the rich world) the decline of really nasty forms of industrial labor.  All some what offset, one expects, by environmental hazard.

The following are choices, not predictions:
  • We will not move backwards on public health (except in local cases of infrastructure breakdown).  
  • Bacterial evolution will bring the omnipotence of antibiotics to an end within a century (if it has not already done so).
  • Environmental hazard in a world on the other side of an ecological crisis, and with a significant part of the human population living in artificial habitats, will probably be reduced at least in terms of simple pollution.  
  • While I doubt that we will be much messing with our own genes -- it is far more complex than a Star Trek episode -- I expect it will be possible to tailor a bacteria to fulfill any of a number of functions.  For example we could allow it to be possible to add a bacteria to one's intestinal fauna to allow the digestion of non-terrestrial proteins.  
  • Given the need for so many microgravity environments and so much time in space travel, space medicine will be well advanced.  It will be possible to spend years in microgravity with no ill effects given moderate exercise and the correct treatments.
  • While we can't re-grow limbs, advances in AI and human-machine interface technology will permit realistic and effective prostheses.
  • Question -- would the same technology lead to close bonding between man and machine in industrial and space applications?  Would the pilot jack in to the spacecraft for example?

    2 comments:

    1. Why can't we regrow limbs in the future? We can do it now.

      http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-06/tissue-engineers-regenerate-muscle-cells-saving-afghanistan-veteran%E2%80%99s-leg

      ReplyDelete
    2. You know, the more I think about this particular post, the more I think it really needs some serious update.

      From what I have read elsewhere, man-machine bonding and various forms of cybernetic enhancement should probably considered, if not commonplace, at least available for serious high-end applications (and frivolous applications of the very rich).

      Thanks for posting!

      ReplyDelete