A Robot Performed Unaided Dental Surgery on a Human Patient

Friday, 22 September 2017 - 7:27PM
Technology
Robotics
Weird Science
Friday, 22 September 2017 - 7:27PM
A Robot Performed Unaided Dental Surgery on a Human Patient
YouTube/CCTV+
How much do you trust modern robotics?

Would you, for example, be happy with letting a robot implant false teeth into your mouth? Somehow, while modern robots have shown the capability to drive cars safely, the idea of letting one loose on a person's mouth still feels absolutely terrifying. One slip of a scalpel, and you'll spend the rest of your life looking like The Joker (which frankly would've made for a cool origin story)

Nevertheless, according to Hong Kong newspaper The South China Morning Post, a dental patient in Xi'an Province, China, has undergone a very unique operation. The unnamed woman had two false teeth, both custom made for her mouth thanks to a 3D printer, implanted into her mouth by an autonomous robot, who received no outside assistance or guidance from human dentists.

While there were humans on hand to observe the one hour operation, they weren't required to step in and assist the operation, meaning that the entire process was undertaken, from start to finish, by a metal robotic hand.



There have been dental surgeries before that have featured robotic surgeons in some capacity, but these normally have involved humans playing some role in the process. The completely autonomous nature of this particular surgery is a game-changer, highlighting just how much the surgical process is going to change in the coming years.

While modern surgeons are very talented, long hours performing complicated procedures can understandably lead to mistakes - in some cases these can have dramatic ramifications, potentially inhibiting the patient's quality of life, or leading to avoidable deaths. Robots, who never tire out or lose concentration, may be the key to revolutionizing the medical industry, making surgery safer for patients, as well as more efficient for hospital staff, who can trust more of their workload to artificial helpers.

That said, there are inherent dangers and other factors to consider. There's a growing discussion surrounding the safety of using robotic technology that can be hacked - everything, from factory bots to toys to, yes, even sex dolls, can potentially be reprogrammed by dangerous hackers if they're connected to the internet without a secure connection. Operating theaters could well be the target for cyber terrorists of the future, as they attempt to cause havoc and endanger lives through hacking surgeonbots.

This is to say nothing of the reaction from the medical community as a whole. Don't expect these kinds of surgery performing miracle bots to become standard equipment in hospitals just yet - many current surgeons are no doubt going to feel threatened as this technology gains popularity.

If robots can perform surgery in a faster, neater, safer, and more efficient manner, human doctors will become obsolete, and nobody likes the prospect of losing their job to a glorified can opener. There's a real chance that those who study for decades to earn medical degrees may suddenly find themselves replaced by a far more effective robot workforce.

These concerns, though, pale in comparison to the benefits that this technology can provide. In years to come, it may be natural and expected for a robot to show up in the operating theater, ready to cut you open to remove your appendix.
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