Science Fiction in Healthcare

More than one hundred thousand years ago, our ancestors started using carved stones - and our obsession with tools hasn’t decreased since. Smartphones and other gadgets function today as an extension of our bodies, and we have successfully developed technology that allows us to provide a home for 7.6 billion members of our species on our planet.

Science and technology has always been a beloved topic for filmmakers, as they can extend their imagination to the wildest stretches. Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Luc Besson, Andrew Niccol and many others entertain us with their remarkable visions of the future. Although we don’t yet use flying cars, and we have no contact with alien civilizations, some automatically-lacing clothing is currently on Kickstarter, and we have definitely reached the era of artificial intelligence. Judgment day might still come with a troop of laser-eyed killer-machines, and humanoid sex robots are already purchasable. Many cyborgs live among us, however synthetic body parts cannot yet transmit information into human nerves yet. Artificial electrodes sense the signals of the central nervous system and transfer this information to the bionic limb, decoding nerve pulses into intended movement patterns.

The line between natural and synthetic cells is blurring rapidly, and our descendants might be able to replace all of their defective organs and body parts. One thing is inevitable; we all want to live a long and healthy life, and we wish the same for our loved ones. Humans have cured each other since the beginning of their existence, and our collective aim for physical and mental strength will always trigger the best possible engineering in the field of medicine. Humans aim for immortality, and it seems to be more and more possible to conserve our genes..

With the rapid expansion of nanotechnology, diagnostics, robotic surgery, software engineering, CRISPR technology and vaccination, an extended and improved lifetime has been offered to all of us. Drones can distribute medicine to isolated areas; an artificial pancreas is available for diabetics to help them regulate their insulin levels; degenerative diseases can be treated through gene editing; and the recovery process after surgery or therapy is becoming shorter.

Medical training with a surgical robot

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words or text; furthermore, 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual. Therefore, great visual communication, such as infographics, video procedures, digital maps, and screens, are highly beneficial in all fields of medicine. 3D visualisation and virtual reality are revolutionising healthcare by bringing medical training experience to the next level. The first true-colour X-rays that visually distinguish muscle, fat and bones have just been developed. The new sensor can recognise the chemicals present in different sorts of tissues, and produce very detailed information about the wavelengths of individual X-ray photons that pass through the body. Needless to say, it is a milestone in medical history. With this stunning visual improvement, medical research and diagnostics can become much more accurate thanks to the detailed chemical data sensation.

So, what’s next? Genetically engineered infants? Robots with human brains? Self-diagnostics on your smartphone, and vaccines against all diseases? If people are given long, healthy lives, how will they make the most out of them?