Inventor: "We programmed the best surgeon’s techniques, based on consensus and physics, into the machine"
Third Party: “While in a technical sense, semi-autonomous suturing is a ‘grand challenge’ problem of surgical robotics, clinically much suturing and bowel anastomosis is done by staplers which can do the whole thing in seconds,” he wrote in an email. “Clearly the task they chose does not justify the elaborate equipment they used.”
So, they used machine learning to perform a limited part of a surgical procedure, but with freedom of motion and adapting to tissue changes.
At the end of the article they talk about self-driving cars and how we have lane-assist and the next level is taking over. The inventor likens this technology to current lane-assist technology, but it seems more involved than that.
Personally I do not want any machine learning consensus algorithm with control over a surgical procedure in my body. I think the DaVinci type systems (tele-operation, but without autonomy) are awesome -- they allow superhuman precision in delicate surgical tasks.
However, until AGI is a solved problem I do not want an automated algorithm making decisions with a knife to my organs.
Let the automation algorithm highlight portions of the screen or anticipate the next viewpoint, but keep it away from the controls.
Human Surgeons Mortality Rate : 1%
Computer Surgeon Mortality Rate : 0.5%
I'll be sold on the automated surgeon. And I think this will happen WAY before AGI is solved.
Doctor enters the prescription into a networked computer. It goes to a robotic pill picker/packer that affixes the label with instrucitons. Outpatients pick up the medication at the desk on the way out. For inpatients it is sent to the nurses' station on the floor of their hospital room.
It's been a while since I've been to a hospital in the US. I just assumed they were already doing this.
It is a big change from the traditional shift change in many hospital units, where nurses going off duty typically confer in a hallway or at the nursing station with the nurse coming on for the next shift, giving a rundown of their patients’ status and needs. In some cases nurses may simply write up a report in the medical record for the next shift to read.
If the risk of falling victim to a bug/mistake by a software surgeon is lower than that of a human surgeon, then simple desire for self-preservation you should choose the software. To choose the human over the software, even when it's provably more dangerous is allowing a baseless prejudice to put you at higher risk. It's equivalent to being given the choice between two human surgeons of differing skill levels, and choosing the lesser skilled surgeon on the basis of their ethnicity.
The surgeon could put the surgery into the controlled situation that the algorithm understands, and make some over-arching decisions through a UI (for instance, he could say 'join this nerve on this side to this nerve on the other', which might be difficult for the algorithm to work out), and then the algorithm would accomplish that task, and return control back to the surgeon.
More simply, a program could prevent a human surgeon using a machine like a Da Vinci from touching a nerve, or define the limits of bone removal.
The latter example does already exist in clinical use:
That may never come. The best-performing machine learning algorithms work by optimising a measure of error. Experience says that while it's easy enough to take this error to something between 10% - 30%, it's excruciatingly difficult to push it any further down.
see, I'm with you WHEN that's the comparison for the particular surgeon who would be performing my procedure. Not the average of all surgeons vs the computer, since that stat is not necessarily applicable to my situation.
You might hope the be the special snowflake who gets the heroic surgeon, but I wouldn't bet on it. Unless you are medically interesting in some way, you're likely to just get the next schmoe on the rotation.
AGI isn't yet discovered yet we allow planes to fly themselves, markets allow automated agents to spend billions and so on. What if the algorithm was proved to be 10x safer than a human expert? Even without AGI they could be better than humans.
Isn't the surgeon's brain a machine learning algorithm in physical form? Humans are more versatile today and can adapt do different situations, but I don't see this as a argument against machine learning necessarily.
Things like this make me hopeful about perfecting medicine and surgery to avoid common human mistakes--even if that is still decades away.
Look at this:
You may not have read the article because it explicitly mentions the system you linked to:
> The current state-of-the-art robot for soft tissue surgery is the da Vinci system from Intuitive Surgical, but it’s not automated at all. The da Vinci is a teleoperated system, in which the surgeon sits at a console and manipulates controls in dexterous maneuvers that are mimicked by tiny tools inside the patient’s body.
You can start calling it a surgeon when it can autonomously perform an appendectomy, including handling common complications (excessive bleeding, situs inversus, etc) during surgery.
The company I used to work for focused on using computers to improve the state of surgery, primarily laparoscopy, by using virtual reality to train surgeons. This is an alternative approach, teaching the computer to perform the procedure itself, rather than to evaluate its performance.
As a side note: I actually spent a fair bit of time exercising with modules for suturing, including specifically for the small intestines, and it's definitely quite fiddly work.
>> Its vision system relied on near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) tags placed in the intestinal tissue; a specialized NIRF camera tracked those markers while a 3D camera recorded images of the entire surgical field. Combining all this data allowed STAR to keep its focus on its target. The robot made its own plan for the suturing job, and it adjusted that plan as tissues moved during the operation.
>> The researchers trained STAR only on how to perform this particular intestinal suturing procedure. “We programmed the best surgeon’s techniques, based on consensus and physics, into the machine,” Kim said.
So it's a combination machine learning - expert system robot. Machine learning (I assume Convolutional Neural Networks) for vision, some planning algorithm for the suturing job and expert knowledge for the surgical techniques.
That's the shit I'm talking about! Let's see more of that! Don't just end-to-end train some deep net and try to have it learn to do everything from scratch. Use background knowledge! Combine techniques! Be smart, dammit!
Edt: btw, this sort of thing, systems with hard-coded expert knowledge besting human experts, that's age-old stuff. It's how it used to be done before the last winter (AI winter). Nice to see it back.
Edt 2: Apologies for the ex!cla!mation! marks! but I'm so! excited!
So it's not even properly autonomous- they're just misusing the term to mean that nobody was remote-controlling it.
Meh. All those exclamation marks in vain :(
If this technology would improve the rates, I'm for it
EDIT: If it goes south, I assure you, I'll be one of the first to devote the rest of my life to getting humanity back on track with the distribution of resource and knowledge wealth (not fiat currency "wealth" mind you, cause that isn't going to be worth much compared to raw resources and automation knowledge).
We really need to be thinking about how to distribute the benefits of automation but right now our answer is only those people who already have capital will benefit from it.
Also, define "food", because we can certainly devote some time to discussing processed foods.
In fact that's what we do as developers. Automate things.
It is going to lower down the prices of such surgeries, which I believe, eventually will benefit the whole society.
I'm curious if they took into account how a person will do a better job when said job is important/risky to themselves. I. E. stitching up a human where a mistake has dire repercussions vs stiching up a bit of desposable flesh.
Was the pig even alive?
I'd expect a robot + human intervention to be strictly better than a human alone. Surgery is a slow static kind of operation so if anything starts to go in the wrong direction, the human can press pause and intervene. Then sit back and let the robot continue after correcting its actions. That's quite different from a driverless car where decisions have to be made quickly and you can't just pause to stop and consider which way to steer in an emergency.
Those two adjectives don't often belong together.
with imb's watson, diagnostics as well i would presume, in the near future...