The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) is promising big things. According to research by Accenture, AI could increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent and double the annual economic growth rates in 12 developed economies by 2035.
In doing so, AI is set to change the nature of work. We’ve already seen self-checkout technology decimate the retail workforce, and AI-powered customer assistants are expected to send the sales profession the way of the dinosaurs. Self-driving vehicles may put couriers, long-haul truck drivers and transport and logistics workers of business, and automated phone and scheduling services may also spell the end of office administration staff. And many other professions are not safe either. News-gathering algorithms may make human journalists redundant in coming years; a law algorithm recently achieved a 70 percent success rate in 8,000 test cases; hospitals and pharmaceutical chains are already replacing human pharmacists with automated machines; and even highly skilled surgeons are under threat from increasingly sophisticated surgical robots.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Experts believe it will be many years before AI is capable of completely replacing creatives like writers, designers and artists, and executive management positions are also likely to remain in human hands for the foreseeable future.
The AI revolution is also serving up a range of new work opportunities for the next generation. Computer support specialists, for example, are set to see 88,500 jobs added from 2016–26 (an 11 percent increase), while software developers will see 302,500 jobs added in the same timespan (a 24 percent increase).
But these jobs – and others like them – will require new skill sets that our kids should be learning today. Coding, systems infrastructure and quality assurance skills are winners in the industry, and data analytics should also take a primary place in school and university curriculums as we face the growing need for data analysts to make sense of the enormous amounts of data organizations are currently collecting.
The Rise Of ‘Cobotics’
Perhaps the largest growth industry for our kids will be robotics engineering. Robots are already filling many manufacturing jobs, but increasingly sophisticated AI-powered cobots (collaborative robots) are set to transform many more industries.
Cobots are not limited to protected silos on factory floors. Rather, the light, mobile machines will work with and alongside people in shared environments and will be teachable in order to complete or assist with a huge variety of tasks across a wide range of industries.
Federal funding is available for STEM education, with the Department of Education being directed to invest in “high-quality STEM education, including computer science in particular,” with the goal of providing $200 million in annual grand funding.
But we’ll need to continue to increase our commitment to this kind of high-tech education if we’re to equip our kids with the skills they’ll need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Getting a patient to swallow a pill-sized sensor to relay real-time data to their doctor sounds like something straight out of a low budget sci-fi flick, right?
Wrong! Thanks to advances in nanotechnology medical implants are not a futuristic fantasy – but a reality, capable of monitoring patient health on a personal level. Welcome to the world of ‘insideable’ devices, where bio-sensitive nanotechnology in a patient’s body can provide a range of critical data.
Understanding ‘Insideable’ Nanotechnology
An ‘insideable’ is a microscopic nanodevice that goes into a patient's body to perform a diagnostic task or monitor one or more bodily functions. The current generation of devices can be swallowed, injected or inserted just under a patient's skin.
Thanks to advances in nanotechnology, insideable devices are the next big thing in healthcare.
The first wave of nanodevices include radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants, which allow one to unlock a front door, computer or smartphone – all with a wave of a chip embedded in a finger. In the medical field insideable nanodevices take this concept a step further by making it possible to monitor a patient's vital signs, track their gastrointestinal health or even detect the early signs of diseases like cancer.
The question is what practical benefits will this cutting-edge technology have for the health sector?
The biggest promise of insideable technology is to make preventive medicine a reality, and help healthcare professionals to:
- Accurately monitor patient health.
- Predict risk with a greater degree of certainty.
- Rapidly confirm a diagnosis.
- Track whether patients are taking their prescription medications.
- Collaborate with patients more effectively.
Smart Pills: The Future of Digital Medicine
Regulatory bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already cleared ‘smart pills’ like an ingestible sensor digital pill from Proteus Digital Health - who bill themselves as “the world’s first digital medicine service”.
Elsewhere tech giant Google is also working on a smart pill that could identify diseases before symptoms become present – a pre-emptive approach that will allow care to be personalised to the individual. There is also research into DNA nanotechnology, where one long, thin noodle-like strand of DNA can deliver drugs inside cells. Insideables could even improve the delivery of vaccines, which could mean no more needles – an advance all patients would welcome.
Insideables and nanotechnology open up a world of possibilities to make healthcare smarter, faster, more effective - and revolutionize the way we detect and treat disease.