My first reaction to hearing that the FDA approved a robot doctor was “Nooo, FDA, why must you encourage humanity’s inevitable demise at the hands of our eventual robot overlords?!,” but once I was able to switch my brain out of dystopia mode (yeah, it’s a thing), I realized that this is actually really cool.
Writes Gizmodo, the robot, called RP-VITA, is
basically a big screen with an iPad interface that lets a doctor examine a patient remotely, as long as the doc has all the information he or she needs. But RP-VITA is not just for basic check-ups. Apparently it works in pre-op and post-op, as well as during surgery itself, and in a variety of categories from psychology, to neurology, to cardiology, and so on.
Before visions of murderous robots wielding scalpels at helpless anesthetized patients start to freak you out too much, the robot’s main job during surgery—and in general—is threefold: Monitoring the patient, conveying data to (human) doctors not physically present, and staying out of everyone’s way.
Says Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, the company that makes the RP-VITA, “There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless.”
So it doesn’t perform any actual surgery or have the capability to wield weapon-like objects.
Sorry, I thought I had that dystopia thing under control.
But, to be fair, it’s kind of hard for my mind not to jump to the robot doctors shrugging off their human counterparts and going rogue when the company that makes them is called iRobot, for crying out loud.