By-Dr Hitaishi Thakkar

Medical student, Terna medical College.

It’s officially summer! Well, for Mumbai folks it’s always summer, because winter hardly exists!

As I was walking through the hospital wards, I quickly stumbled upon a room that said DO NOT ENTER in bold letters. The human brain is funny, if you tell someone not to do something, they’ll do it with a speed greater than light.

(Told my friends not to get back with their exes but alas!)

I slowly push the door open after making sure no one is around. And behold, I see a group of biomedical scientists with a…..  TIME MACHINE?

As I breached the code and entered the secret room, they forced me to be their first subject.

It’s me! Hi, I’m the guinea pig.

So the burning question was, will I choose the past or the future? The answer was easy…. FUTURE

After setting the timeline, I went straight to the year 2075.

The time machine was just like a door but from one era to another, it transported  people across time, keeping the place constant.

I’m now in the same hospital just five decades apart. As I gauge carefully to look at the changes.

The hospital now consists of foyers of big glass rooms enclosed by humans and guarded by robots. The rooms open only after the procedures are done and are controlled by huge robotic arms. I stared in astonishment as I saw a  surgery being performed by robots that were in turn being controlled by surgeons.

Picture this, a bunch of surgeons strapped onto their chairs with a gazillion scalp probes attached to a computer which in turn controls the robots that are performing a surgery.

The surgeon is able to control the robot without any physical movement and just by merely thinking about the next step in the surgery. In this way the surgery is precisely done without any physical exertion of the surgeon. The surgeon stays enclosed in a glass room until the surgery is successfully completed and the post operative robots take over.

The surgeons can now  work peacefully without worrying about long term complications like varicose veins. In this way people have a better recovery and more successful surgeries.

The work environment is less stressful with more advantages and perfect vision of the body part being operated that is projected onto a humongous screen.

In another room I saw patients with motor neuron palsy, operate a wheelchair combined with brain- computer interface technology. Such patients can work and operate a computer even after being paralyzed due to stroke. Along with increasing productivity, it improves the overall QALY(Quality associated life years) and decreases the DALY ( disability associated life years) significantly in the population.

The palliative care unit was filled with mute people who can project their thoughts onto a computer screen. People with prosthetics can now control the movement of their artificial limb thereby providing the independence and ability to continue their daily pursuits.

BCI as a technology has swallowed the entire hospital- the applications are wide and far, from diagnostic to therapeutic, curative to preventive, it covers every spectrum. 2075 was interesting but I could see that much less staff was employed, the hospital was being run efficiently by our oversmart robots. The endless glass walls were echoing with trapped humans, which felt like a glorified prison.

Diagnosis of psychiatric disorders has been completely revolutionized by this technology. But the thought of reading someone’s mind or thoughts seems like an intrusion of privacy. The application of this system into other pursuits of life could lead to serious ethical issues. Could we possibly have mental slaves or prisoners whose minds and thoughts would be recorded and analyzed. Could this be the new lie detector test?

As good as it sounds, the thoughts of total AI surveillance is a scary thought. What if there is a breach of data in the system? The complete collapse of power could lead to a catastrophic situation.

The doctors of the future are so dependent on this system that the basics of medicine are long forgotten along with the art of history taking.

Maybe some things should never be changed.

The human to human contact has something super special about it. What AI or brain technology misses is the human touch, the altruistic nature and the empathetic feelings.

As I was lost in my thoughts, a robot was advancing towards me and by the time I could realize, the robot security guard decided to scan my iris and as expected I was an intruder.

Suddenly a lot of security systems were alerted and alarms rang, I was followed by a bunch of robots while the humans watched me from their glass boxes, helpless. Was I living the ultimate nightmare of being followed by lifeless creatures?  As all the doors were slowly closing I sprinted to the room where I hid my time machine and without thinking anything just dived right in.

The madness had suddenly ended. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by doctors, nurses and paramedical workers and the first words I heard were, “everything will be alright soon” with the widest smile and cutest eyes.

And I was back home! To put my feelings into words, I had experienced two worlds in one day. As the adrenaline rush died down, I realized that one day we will all transform.

In a world full of robots, let’s be human!



Author: Dr Hitaishi Thakkar Medical student, Terna medical College.

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