So this week we learn that The Terminator is actually a true story.

The latest global threat to our existence is the real prospect of artificial intelligent drones being created for military purposes.  Soon enough they’ll be all over the place, crashing into to Amazon drones flying through the sky delivering pizza to the masses and fighting with each other whilst we humans try to figure out a way to get back to the past to prevent it all from happening in the first place.

What next E.T? Blade Runner? Honey I Shrunk the Kids?  I do hope not.

Frightening stuff.

But before we get to Armageddon we have got a whole lot of other things to think about in terms of where the robots fit in. Are they gonna take over our jobs? Well, some scientists have already kindly worked that one out.

You may be pleased to hear that telemarketers are high up on the list with the highest probability to be predicted to be replaced by artificial intelligence but it’s also highly reassuring for us all and in particular you surgeons out there that the chances of surgery being fully computerised are a low possibility (the 15th least lightly occupation on a list of 702).

I attended the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland conference in Bournemouth this year and was able to chat with leading experts in the medical device market along with some of the country’s finest bowel surgeons and was able to learn a great deal about the future of artificial intelligence in our operating theatres.

The medical robots market is projected to reach USD 12.80 Billion by 2021 from 4.90 Billion in 2016. Device companies are pouring billions into artificial intelligence and introducing robots into hospitals across the globe. It’s fair to say that although not necessarily a new concept to those working in the medical field it is a development that is in its relatively early days. Costs are high to purchase and to operate and seemed to me to be one of the biggest barriers to entry for many surgeons I spoke to – particularly with the word “austerity “dragging along like a ten-tonne anchor chained to most finance directors in the UK at present.  But the arguments against this look to less invasive treatments, potentially more precise procedures and most importantly less recovery time for the patient spent in hospital.

These arguments were discussed very eloquently by the team at AIS Channel last week during their live surgery session entitled “Robotic Vs Laparoscopic”.  In between live coverage of a sigmoidectomy (an operation to remove part of the colon affected by a tumour), a great lecture was presented by Dr. Antonio Lacy and Dr. Raquel Bravo:

“Perhaps the most invigorating and daunting challenge for the modern surgeon is the continued drive to push the envelope of what is innovative, fast and cost-effective”

One of my biggest take-aways from the discussion was the fact that what it all boils down to is not a competition of one procedure versus another but it’s about education education education – and ensuring that our medical professionals have all the latest tools and equipment at their disposal.

That “continued drive to push the envelope” is all about getting what is best for the patient and all these techniques must be tried, tested, researched, analysed and then most crucially the knowledge and learnings must be passed on and disseminated  to others in the profession for the good of everyone – a win win.

This ethos sits at the very heart (or you might say bowels) of everything we stand for here at Bowel Disease Research Foundation.  Our research over the years has helped fuel many discoveries into better practices and procedures for improving treatments into all types of bowel conditions, disorders and disease.

We exist to fund medical research into all types of bowel disease and to ensure that the best outcomes for patients are reached.  The real unique aspect of our work is that we are able to bring together the expertise of the leading surgeons and consultants in Coloproctology in Great Britain and Ireland and ensure that the new generation of junior doctors and trainee surgeons are given the tools to learn and develop through specialist research projects.

At least our bowels are in good hands – both artificial and human.

Good to know isn’t it?

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