Author and researcher, Vivek Wadhwa, expects the tech industry to push medical science further than we have ever imagined.
With the influx of tech's heaviest hitters tackling medical science ventures, focus has shifted from treatment to the total eradication of disease.
LOOKING BEYOND GADGETS
Just this year alone, we've seen several tech companies jump into medical research. From Sean Parker's $250-million contribution to fighting cancer, to the birth of Google's Life Sciences research division. The latest to join in were Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, launching the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a $3-billion program which aims prevent, manage, and cure all diseases.
"The technology industry has entered the field of medicine and aims to eliminate disease itself," writes renowned expert Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Stanford University's Rock Center for Corporate Governance, director of research for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and a distinguished fellow at the Singularity University.
"It may well succeed because of a convergence of exponentially advancing technologies, such as computing, artificial intelligence, sensors, and genomic sequencing. We're going to see more medical advances in the next decade than happened in the past century," Wadhwa believes.
TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE
Innovation will be the key and Wadhwa notes that wearable tech that monitors our health and genome sequencing are among the most interesting developments today. And of course, there was the human genome project, which has made advances in biotechnology and synthetic biologypossible. Wadhwa mentions CRISPR, the state-of-the-art genetic editing tool we have and "the most amazing — and scary — genetics technology of all."
Wadhwa also pointed to microbiomes, calling them the "the next big medical frontier". These bacterial systems in our bodies affect us more than we know. "[I]in reality, there are 10 times as many microbes in our body as cells. This is a field that I am most excited about, because it takes us back to looking at the human organism as a whole. The microbiome may be the missing link between environment, genomics, and human health," Wadhwa explains.
Exciting times are ahead, but it will take time to get there.
Yes, it will take time for the inventions to get from the lab to people in need, and the technology elite will have these before the rest of us. But this will only be for a short period, because the way the tech industry builds value is by democratizing technology, reducing its cost and enabling it to reach billions. This is why I am so excited that companies such as IBM, Facebook, and Google are taking the mantle from the health-care industry.
The next big break in medical research will be brought to us by these emerging technologies. "These companies have a motivation to keep us healthy: so that we download more applications rather than remain hooked on prescription medicines," Wadhwa aptly concludes.
He discusses the matter more in depth in his upcoming book The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Technology Choices Will Create the Future.
References: Singularity HUB, The Washington Post, The Medical Futurist