How Robotics are Influencing our Wellbeing
How many times a day do you check your step count or see how many calories you’ve burned? Whether it’s on a smartwatch, phone, or a dedicated fitness tracker, these little nuggets of health information are becoming hard to ignore. But experts are determined to bring technology further into the healthcare fold. We're talking robot physicians that know our bodies better than we do, and cyborg surgeons saving our lives.
Nanotechnology is already playing a huge role in surgery, particularly in oral procedures where miniscule nanobots have been developed to reduce pain and recovery time (source: Betway Casino). Futuristic technologies are also playing their part in diagnosis, surpassing what even the most skilled physicians can do in some cases. One AI system can predict heart attacks and strokes more accurately than its human counterpart. Another AI technology is able to detect cancer risks before symptoms appear 30 times faster than a human doctor, and with 99% accuracy.
To make things even weirder, we could soon become part-nanobot ourselves. Researchers are reportedly working on a computer made from DNA, which would live inside cells and scan for any faults in genetic makeup, such as the development of cancer cells. If any faults were found, the computer would ‘reboot’ the system, destroying the unhealthy cells and reducing the risk of cancer or disease.
Trusting robots to carry out intricate procedures may be too much for some, but it makes sense. Surgical mistakes are, more often than not, caused by human error. Surgeons are not immune to fatigue or stress, regardless of how dedicated they are to their profession. Robots on the other hand do not suffer from either fatigue or stress.
Coexisting With Robots
There are experts who firmly believe that medical robots will simply work alongside humans rather than replace them entirely. Human traits like empathy cannot be replicated by AI, and there will always be manual tasks that robots will never be able to complete. Things like administering CPR should be done by a human, who will know exactly the pressure and speed to use over time, and, more importantly, when it’s time to stop.
Physicians also have a non-linear working method and are able to think outside the box in order to reach a correct diagnosis. With these huge factors leaving machines at a disadvantage to humans, doctors can rest easy knowing that their jobs aren’t in jeopardy to robots.
Politicians, activists, and even the great David Attenborough have warned of the grave consequences of climate change, while issues such as deforestation and pollution are also wreaking environmental havoc. Many of these concerns stem from the space and energy required to sustain a growing population in the modern world, so robots are stepping in to undo some of the damage.
For example, Australia is home to the GrowBot which plants trees 10 times faster than a human, and at half the cost. Instead of seeds, these robots plant established trees more likely to grow successfully in a new location. The GrowBot team hopes to deploy over 4,500 of these machines to help revitalise the world’s forests.
Elsewhere Down Under, we have the RangerBot. This robot has been designed to kill the crown-of-thorns starfish, one of the three major threats to the Great Barrier Reef. With 99.4% accuracy, the technology delivers a toxic substance only harmful to the starfish. And while six human divers could only cover half of the reef in a year, six RangerBots can cover the reef 14 times over the same period. The RangerBot can also monitor and gather data regarding coral bleaching, water quality, and pollution, and there has been strong interest in using it to save other coral reefs around the globe.
Meanwhile, a robotic spider called Latro is dealing with nuclear material in fuel ponds by finding, cutting up, and getting rid of waste materials. This machine does a much better clean-up job than a human, as it doesn’t need to worry about being exposed to the potentially harmful radiation on site.
Though this technology may help save the world, it could potentially cause some collateral damage. A serious malfunction could result in the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and the robots themselves require significant energy to operate. Therefore, these could be unsustainable for the environment they are helping to save. Robots are also typically created from harmful materials, which are detrimental to the planet if not recycled properly. However, with the dawn of biodegradable robotics, these creations could eventually live, die, and decay without causing environmental harm, and far outlast their makers.