Looks like we’re getting older again…

We all know that the average life expectancy has gone up signicantly over the last century and this has already had quite an impact.

If we continue at the same rate then we’ll all be living to 100 years old during this century. Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have launched an ambitious project last September that aims to make the world disease free within their children’s lifetime. Biohub, a $3-billion investment project of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has been working towards this goal.

Personally, I think this is going to happen even more quickly than this. With the advances in Robotics, AI and 3D Printing, we could see our lifespan increase significantly over the next 20 to 30 years.

What do this mean for our retirement plans? We you better have a big one!! You’ll need it to last 30 more years than you’ve planned!

Zuckerberg: By 2100 We Will Have Cured Most All Diseases

In Brief
  • In a recent Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg shared a photo Biohub’s science team, and commented on some of the group’s goals.
  • According to Zuckerberg, life expectancy has increased by 1/4 year for each year in the past century. If we just continue that progress, average life expectancy will be about 100 by the end of this century.

Read more: Futurism.com

This Year’s Nobel Prize-Winning Invention Could Basically Make Us Immortal

The Nobel Prize in chemistry doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the ones that go out for peace or literature — especially this year, when the latter was controversially awarded to songwriter Bob Dylan. Amidst all the Dylan hubub, what nobody noticed is that this year’s Nobel-winning chemists pretty much just unlocked the key to immortality.

More specifically, this trio of scientists has developed “the world’s smallest machines” — molecules that can produce mechanical motions to perform specific tasks, like wipe out disease or damage from the body. It’s a big deal, and great news for anyone angling to live forever.

These motorized machines are 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair

The scientists have spent three decades developing these nano-machines, amassing quite the diverse collection of super-advanced functional mini-bots along the way. They’ve engineered nano-sized versions of elevators, motors, and yes, even a four-wheel-drive car — all constructed from individual molecules that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The chemical reaction that gets them to move is assuredly complex, but essentially all you need to do is add a little heat to excite the electrons inside each molecule. Easy peasy.

They’ll completely change how we treat disease and prolong our lifespan

Once they’re sophisticated and precise enough, these mini-machines have the potential to upend modern medicine as we know it. Forget dosing yourself with antibiotics when you get an infection, or going through chemotherapy to rid yourself of cancer. Instead, doctors could prescribe tiny bots that have been specifically engineered to target your plagued cells. Once deployed, they could deliver medicine or even perform microsurgeries — removing diseased tissue, or mending damaged bones.

Once disease can so easily be eradicated from our bodies, and we can proactively address every potential problem area, we’ll reach a point in which the human body doesn’t decay at the same rate. The average human lifespan could extend well past what we’ve ever considered possible — that is, unless the scientists are right and we max out at 115 no matter what.

Obviously, the technology has a long way to go

The technology is still very immature — in fact, when announcing the winners, the Nobel Prize committee actually compared the molecular motor at its current stage to that of the auto industry in the 1830s. There’s quite a way to go to make these things safe and capable of doing what we want them to with precision.

That’s not to say we won’t see benefits from this sort of technology in our lifetime. Winning the Nobel Prize has put molecular machinery in the spotlight, exciting researchers and, more importantly, the institutions that fund them. Thanks to that, we may see advancements at a much faster clip than is being forecast.

Source: Thrillist.com

By 2030, Hospitals May Be a Thing of the Past

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BRAVE NEW WORLD

As the world of medicine is increasingly changed by biology, technology, communications, genetics, and robotics, predicting the outlook of the next few decades of medicine becomes harder. But that is exactly what Melanie Walker of the World Economic Forum does, and she predicts a bright new future for healthcare.

Walker is the co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on neurotechnology and brain science and has been a doctor for the past 20 years.

“Nearly 20 years ago, when I graduated from medical school, the world of healthcare was dominated by breakthroughs in the field of biology,” Walker said in the article. “But, that is changing quickly because biology is being eaten by robotics and genetics as we evolve deeper into the networked age.”

The lynchpin of Walker’s predictions is the increasing adoption of new healthcare technologies, not just in hospitals but in homes. In fact, she says the rise of personalized medicine means we’re moving from hospitals to “home-spitals.”

We can already see these trends playing out. Many of the biggest diseases are largely vascular, and better understanding is making them more predictable and preventable. Accidents are likely to fall with the advent of automation and driverless tech and regenerative medicine is already stretching the lifespans in the most advanced countries.

Improvements in health monitoring will also make doctor’s visits rarer since they’ll acquire health data from your smartphone. And scanning technology will one day create devices that combine spectroscopy, magnetic resonance, and radiation in an all-in-one scanner.

BETTER OPERATIONS

The trend also points to less intrusive and more automated surgeries and operations. Microbots will perform surgeries from inside your body and ingestible robotics will diagnose or operate on you before they dissolve.

There’ll also be an end to organ waiting lists. Advancements in 3D printing have made great leaps in printing artificial organs, bones, and even tissue.

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WEF

One day, instead of getting prescriptions from your doctor, brain implants may read your symptoms and beam them directly to the smartphone. It will then print out a custom set of drugs to address the root of your problems.

Advancements in genomics will also ensure you know which diseases you’re most likely to get so you’re prepared or even able to edit them out of your genome.

This isn’t a prediction designed to be 100 percent as new advancements and discoveries are made every day. Rather, the predictions help set us on a path to advance the regulatory structure to accommodate future advances and get funding towards the right fields to achieve this vision.

Source: Futurism.com

Legally Blind Man Sees Clearly For The First Time Ever, Thanks to Virtual Reality

Wow, what an incredible development. VR has helped a legally blind man to be able to see clearly.

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View the full story here: http://futurism.com/legally-blind-man-sees-clearly-for-the-first-time-ever-thanks-to-virtual-reality/

There are a lot of applications of VR that we haven’t thought about.

“Limitless potential”

“Indeed, virtual reality could be adapted for use for a myriad of other endeavors and to help with a great number of issues. As early as 2014, scientists proposed creating events and scenes using VR to give members of the jury a deeper understanding of the crime on trial.

TeenDrive365, meanwhile, developed a virtual reality distracted driving experience to help push its campaign for safe driving.

It could also be used to provide a safe environment for people to confront their phobias, like this app that can help individuals overcome their fear of public speaking. And honestly, this is just the beginning of it all. Researchers at the University of Birmingham’s Human Interface Technology (HIT) are using virtual reality to help train medical personnel in emergency medicine and anesthesia. With this technology, emergency nurses and paramedics can safely be trained in a visually realistic environment.

The project combines a representative human body, an inflatable ‘Chinook’ interior, as well as Virtual and Augmented reality aspects. Using these tools, the program shows medical personnel how to resuscitate and stabilize the wounded and safely transport them to a Field Hospital, and best of all, it simulates the real environment, which helps to prepare personnel in ways previously impossible.

And keep in mind, VR really only broke onto the scene this year…so far greater things are likely on their way.”

A Virtual Reality Full Body Illusion Improves Body Image Disturbance in Anorexia Nervosa

What a fascinating use of VR. What would be interesting to see will be the effect of the self-image of the people who experience this treatment, not only from a medical perspective in treating an illness but also from a psychological perspective in changing a states of being such as someone’s confidence.

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Absract

Background

Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) have a persistent distorted experience of the size of their body. Previously we found that the Rubber Hand Illusion improves hand size estimation in this group. Here we investigated whether a Full Body Illusion (FBI) affects body size estimation of body parts more emotionally salient than the hand. In the FBI, analogue to the RHI, participants experience ownership over an entire virtual body in VR after synchronous visuo-tactile stimulation of the actual and virtual body.

Methods and Results

We asked participants to estimate their body size (shoulders, abdomen, hips) before the FBI was induced, directly after induction and at ~2 hour 45 minutes follow-up. The results showed that AN patients (N = 30) decrease the overestimation of their shoulders, abdomen and hips directly after the FBI was induced. This effect was strongest for estimates of circumference, and also observed in the asynchronous control condition of the illusion. Moreover, at follow-up, the improvements in body size estimation could still be observed in the AN group. Notably, the HC group (N = 29) also showed changes in body size estimation after the FBI, but the effect showed a different pattern than that of the AN group.

Conclusion

The results lead us to conclude that the disturbed experience of body size in AN is flexible and can be changed, even for highly emotional body parts. As such this study offers novel starting points from which new interventions for body image disturbance in AN can be developed.

Full article: PLOS

Machine Learning and NLP Are Emerging as Key Tools for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

AI and Machine Learning technologies are progressing at an incredible rate. Read this article on how it could put an end to a destructive desease that affects around 50 people in the world today, one that I’ve had first had experience is seeing the devastating impact of!

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Winterlight Labs, a spinoff from the University of Toronto, is using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to identify people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia based on patterns in their recorded speech.

Why There Is a Need

The World Health Organization estimates that 47.5 million people in the world have dementia, which is defined as a chronic or persistent disorder of the brain marked by lapses in memory, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60% to 70% of the cases of dementia. In developed countries, AD is one of the most costly of all diseases to treat.

Every year in the United States, 236,000 people are diagnosed with AD. There are an additional 100,000 healthy individuals over the age of 60 who seek AD screening. Current paper and pen-based screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease can require five visits, take 15 hours to complete, and cost over $8,000. Examination of brain tissue is still needed for a definitive diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. Approved Alzheimer’s medications can help temporarily with memory symptoms but there is no cure. Finding a cure for AD has attracted a significant amount of funding and there are currently more than 200 active clinical trials focused on dementia in North America.  In these clinical trials alone, Winterlight estimates that its technology could save pharmaceutical companies $32 million if the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology was used to screen patients in place of current paper-based approaches. As the population ages and new medications are developed for AD, the demand for screening is likely to increase substantially.

How it Works

Dementia is often linked to language, and AI tools such as NLP and machine learning can be used to identify cognitive impairment. Winterlight has developed a tablet-based prototype that asks people to describe what’s happening in an image, encouraging them to speak for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. The language sample recording is then transcribed using a speech recognition system. Over 400 features of the sample including acoustic, lexical, syntactic, and semantic measurements are extracted into various categories. A machine learning classifier is then used to analyze the results. Machine learning classifiers are algorithms that have been trained to organize data into categories.  In the case of AD, the classifiers have been trained to distinguish between a healthy individual and a person with the disease. In tests, the prototype currently has an 81% accuracy rate in classifying speech samples.

Benefits

Besides cost savings, Winterlight’s technology has a high level of accuracy and the approach is applicable to not only screening for dementia but also early detection and monitoring the disease over time.  Currently, the software can only do screening on population-level data, but the company is looking into applying it on a personalized level, analyzing individuals’ changes in speech over time. Winterlight plans to conduct pilot studies involving seniors living in Toronto retirement homes this summer to gather more individual data.

Challenges

In medical statistics, false positives and false negatives are errors that result in incorrect diagnoses. In a false positive outcome, a person without AD could be classified as having the disease.  In a false negative outcome, a person with AD could be classified as not having it. Since there are multiple forms of dementia, and some cognitive impairment is a natural consequence of aging, false positives seem especially likely. Examination of brain tissue is likely to remain the only way to definitively diagnose the disease. As long as there are no cures, the downside of a false diagnosis seems harmless.  From a business model perspective, the ability to diagnose a disease but not prescribe a cure limits the market for the product.

The Path Forward

As treatments for AD are developed, approved, and promoted, the need to screen patients will grow according. Since systems such as Winterlight’s technology are based in part on machine learning, their results are very likely to improve over time, yielding more accurate results and overcoming many of the current challenges related to false diagnoses.

Source: Tractica

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Medicine is about to hit warp speed

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An incredible aritcle on the pace at which medicine is progressing:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/as-tech-trickles-in-medicine-is-about-to-hit-warp-speed/

We really won’t recognise ourselves in 10 years from now!

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