How will medical advancements impact society?

This video discusses the social implications of disruptive technologies such as IBM Watson. Will there be less of a need for people going to medical school and a greater need for people knowing how to operate machinery used within a particular industry? Perhaps that is where the future is heading. Within healthcare and sciences, technologies with cognitive capabilities and sophisticated AI systems are capable of assisting doctors in diagnosing patients, comparing statistics of how people will react to medications, searching for clinical trials within a designated area, monitoring the progression of a patient, and unanimously reporting a patients diagnostics into a cloud based computing system. All of these tasks are things IBM Watson is doing and it is paving the way for treatment within hospitals and treatment centers.

Several articles are discussed in the video regarding statistics on how population is increasing in the future and what that means for an economic system. Within the United States, the average age of retirement for people born after 1960 is now 67 years old compared to 65 years according to the New York Times. Part of the reason people are living longer is due to technologies increasing the ability to detect disease, treat disease, and develop new ways of prevention. If people live longer, what type of impact will that lead to the workforce? Social Security? These questions are topics discussed in the video with the conclusion that the age in which people can receive their benefits from Social Security will increase, causing people to hold their jobs for longer and displacing those searching for available job opportunities. Furthermore technology is currently displacing people out of jobs, however in the future this problem may become more serious if cognitive computing systems such as IBM Watson develop in more industries.

To read more on social implications of disruptive technologies please follow the links below to the news articles discussed in the video. What are your thoughts on this issue?



6 thoughts on “How will medical advancements impact society?

  1. Walker J. Mondt

    It has become apparent in society today that historic technological advancements never seen before are changing and will continue to change all aspects of life. It affects the way people eat, sleep, work, read the news, travel, and it greatly impacts the future of the healthcare industry.

    Kathleen’s video does a great job of addressing concerns and questions raised in thought provoking inquiries into the potential issues facing the inevitable collision between healthcare and technology. Ms. Yeckley specifically discusses IBM Watson. She explains in her video that IBM Watson has disrupted the industry in its capabilities to detect disease and aid in disease prevention. As she cites in her blog, average life expectancy has already begun to raise, and this technology can speed up this increase. She then formulates a connection between the aging population to concerns about the work force and social welfare programs, namely the Social Security Program.

    According to an article on, the author claims that robots will eventually replace eighty-percent of what doctors do. This makes sense when one puts into perspective the primary functions of physicians, which are, but not limited to: checkups, testing, diagnosis, and prescription). All of these task can not only be done by technology, but done better. The article also provides a Johns Hopkins study that found that as many as 40,500 patients die in the ICU each year due to misdiagnosis.

    In conclusion, the increase in technology could very well help improve healthcare in society. Doctors will never become isolate, however their jobs can become easier and more efficient. I think that Kathleen did an excellent job in her blog on this topic. Some advice I can give is that I think that she could improve on her delivery in the video and perhaps making the video shorter as many people attention spans nowadays aren’t very long.

    Works Cited

  2. Jessica Page

    I think Kathleen’s video did a great job in addressing many different aspects we do not necessarily think about when it comes to medical advancements. Obviously, we realize that with greater technology in the medical field comes greater success in keeping people alive longer and keeping them healthier. What we tend to forget about are the long term affects that these advancements have on society and what that will do for us as a whole.
    Specifically, she discusses IBM and their effect on the industry. They have created the technology to detect disease and aid in disease prevention. The effects have already been substantial. Average life expectancy has already begun to rise and it will only continue. This raises a serious issue though for workforce issues and Social Security. In a time where finding jobs is already difficult, if people are living longer they will stay in their positions longer to reap more benefits. The Social Security age will probably increase as well, again giving people the reason to stay in their jobs longer and effect the system as a whole.
    Another point Kathleen brought up that I thought was interesting is the fact that many older people are not necessarily married. The “elder orphan” population is continuously increasing and this could be a whole other issue. These people will require care when they get to the point of not being able to do things themselves. Kathleen asks a series of very good questions having to do with the number of nursing homes we will need or number of nurses we will need in the future. She also brings up the point that maybe technology will take that all over. It is an interesting concept to think about that I have not necessarily considered.
    I also think the point about the increase in technology and its effect on the number of doctors we will have in the future is something we need to seriously consider. Obviously, technology is always evolving and becoming a crucial part in every aspect of life but do we really want robots taking over as our doctors? Who will be liable for the outcomes of these advancements? Even though it is great in theory, there are a lot of issues I see coming from this and we will need to perfect the technology before we can become solely reliant on it in this particular case.
    Overall, I think Kathleen did a great job in this presentation and she brings up some really good points on social issues regarding technology that we may not always consider or think about. It will be interesting to see this all play out as we continue to move forward. Technology is not stopping anytime soon, so how will we adapt and what will need to change as time goes on? This definitely got me thinking and I think she found some great articles to back up the questions she posed.

  3. Brianna Young

    Technology effects everything in our lives so it’s no surprise that it has a big impact on medical advancement. Kathleen did a great job of explaining the IBM Watson to show one way technology has impacted the medical field greatly. A point that Kathleen brings up that caught my attention was the mention of less people going to medical school because more technologies like IBM Watson could be developed and all you would have to do is learn the technology and not have to learn about all the diseases. This point is very interesting to me because our knowledge of things would decrease and we would become way more dependent on technology to do everything for us. I think people should still have to go to medical schools because if the technology was down or something went wrong a person would still be able to do their job without the technology. Another point that raised some questions in my head were having robots on the o.r floor. This is a good idea because they are already being used but I do not think that the robots should fully take over for a doctor or a surgeon. The idea of being able to go to your doctor and discuss all your medical needs and have face to face contact is special for many people. Especially ones that have major medical issues and are always in and out of the doctors. If robots were to replace a physical doctor being there this would change that doctor patient relationship. Many people also might not like the idea of having a machine tell them they are sick or what is wrong with them because many people still do not fully accept the innovations of technology. Also if something was to go wrong with the robots or the robot didn’t perform a surgery right who would be held liable. With time we probably will be seeing this become a bigger topic of discussion because technology is always improving and changing the world around us.

  4. Aaron Varghese

    Kathleen Yeckley’s post regarding the impact of future medical technology was quite interesting to watch, considering the field of health care is my personal favorite field of interest and ideal area to pursue a business position in. Kathleen’s statement that the life expectancy of humans is getting longer is definitely true. If one wanted to compare life to one of the low points of age expectancy for humans(like the Middle Ages), most adults did not live past their mid 30’s. And looking back simply 50 years, most people now are able to live about a decade longer than their previous ancestors. And this number appears to be rising as the technology increases. However, one must also be aware that this medical technology is what sustains us. There is no doubt that 99% of people who get diagnosed with a severe form of cancer would not be able to survive without the appropriate medical care. There are also tons of other ailments amongst children like asthma, ADD/ADHD, diabetes, and many more ailments that result in children having to become dependent on a type of medication in order to properly function. So yes, it is true that advancements in medical technology are advancing human life expectancies, but it is also important to remember that with higher life expectancy involves much more medical dependency. There is no formula to create eternal youth. And if there was, that would just prove my point even more that in order to preserve your life your dependency on substances that are not your own will dramatically increase as well. I do agree with Kathleen’s argument that the increase in life expectancies will certainly raise new questions regarding how the government will work. I know Kathleen brought up some questions regarding social security, I believe before one can even address these questions one must ask is social security even going to exist in the future? the Social Security Trust has been expected to run completely dry in 2033. And legislature bringing on severe cuts to social security benefits for the elderly and disabled is in the midst. This could pose to be a huge problem in and of itself. However, this seems to fall more under the category of government finances than medical technology. I also feel that the psychologist that Kathleen mentioned, Richard Kalish, was making a bit of a stretch regarding why life expectancy increases may impact marriages. I do agree with his statement that today’s generations do not view marriage as a lifetime commitment anymore but the reasoning behind that is certainly not because we find out we’re going to be living an extra few years. Being a child of divorced parents myself I can establish credibility by saying the source of corrupted marriages is a lack of proper communication and emotional flow. And this can be attributed directly to technology’s ability to eliminate proper and necessary personal interaction. While modern technology’s presence was incredibly minimal for my parents when they were married, the fact of the matter stands that communication obstacles harm marriages. And it is plain as day that modern technology goes above and beyond in succeeding in hurting communication skills. Combined with media’s negative and false representations of how relationships should look like through celebrities, movies, and adult films, technology has “ruined” society’s ability to have proper relationships. This is the true source. As a result of this source people will back away from longer commitments, but to accredit it to the fact that we are living longer is entirely false from my standpoint. Another revolutionary piece of medical technology that raises a bunch of controversial questions similar to the ones Kathleen brought up as well regards the Medical microchips. Already being implemented in some areas, this chip, implanted in your wrist can be a virtual database of all your medical information. This revolutionary technology also comes with serious issues. Having technology infused into you makes you subject to potential 24 hour surveillance and will result in know privacy if this microchip is used for unethical reasons. While the benefits of the chip are certainly high, the potential for dangers are just as high(if not even higher). Therefore it is imperative that we make sure medical technology and technology itself stays in check and does not fall into the wrong hands as it evolves.

  5. Alex Vovk

    Kathleen Yeckley’s blog post “How will medical advancements impact society?” discusses the social implications of disruptive technologies and how these technologies might be employed in medicine. With a well produced video and the presentation of evidence, statistics, research, and opinions from relevant articles in serious publications, the author examines how the developments in scientific research, aided by the advancements in technology, robotics, computing, and artificial intelligence, affect our lives, as well as the potential for even more significant and far-reaching impact on humanity.

    Tremendous advancements in medicine over the last century are observed and documented. As has been stated in the post, the world’s population is increasing and getting older, largely due to improvements in diet, hygiene, healthcare, pharmacology, and medicine. In fact, the latest findings and experiments conducted by BioTime Inc., the leader in the field of regenerative medicine and at the forefront of stem cell research, produced very promising results in reversal of aging process in human cells ( The gradual increase in the average life span of American population has resulted in adjustments of the retirement age. Social Security’s full-benefit retirement age is increasing gradually because of legislation passed by the US Congress in 1983. Traditionally, the full benefit age was 65, and early retirement benefits were first available at age 62. Currently, the full benefit age is 66 for people born in 1943-1954, and it will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. This trend has a significant social impact, especially in the economic environment with increased unemployment, continuing elimination of pensions and other defined benefits by majority of companies, irreversible loss of jobs due to outsourcing and off-shoring. The result of these uncertain times is that workers more and more often delay their retirements and hold on to their jobs. This creates obstacles for younger generation looking to enter the workforce. They have to compete for the available jobs not only with their elders, but also thanks to the globalization, with workers in international markets. Additionally, aging population forces governments to spend more money and resources on healthcare and retirement benefits. The retirees pay lower taxes, so the federal and local government will have to raise income and property tax rates to offset the loss of revenue. This, in turn will add to the national debt as well as local indebtedness, as the communities will have to find the way to finance various projects by borrowing more money.

    I believe to address the economic consequences of the aging population, a reduction, not an increase in the retirement age is needed. This, seemingly counterintuitive approach, will accelerate the younger workers’ entry into the workforce, increasing overall contributions to the to the Social Security program, improving tax revenue, driving economy through increased consumer spending, all of which will have a positive effect on society.

    The prospect of technology replacing humans, relegating them to the task of machine operators, especially in medicine, is somewhat far-fetched at this point in time, I think, but definitely not out of the realm of possibilities. In manufacturing and automobile industry we already see entire plants and factories operate with very limited human intervention, the work being done by robots and monitored by computers with artificial intelligence. I imagine sometime in the future, machines will be developed that would rely less and less on humans. However, these machines will have to be designed, prototyped, manufactured, fine-tuned, all of which still requires highly qualified, experienced, and well educated professionals.

    If someone 50 years ago was asked to imagine and describe the world we live in today, very few would get it right. It takes a real visionary to imagine the future and innovate to make the dreams become reality.

  6. Themba Lungu

    Advancements in medicine will continue as long as technology advances. Every year we experience new advancements in technology that can be used to assist advancements in medicine. Without the technological advancements that have been made in recent memory medicine and therapy would not have made the jumps it has. A multitude of apps are being launched on smartphone devices to monitor an individual’s health and fitness progress and this is only the beginning. Eventually apps and watches, such as Apple’s iWatch, will be able to not only track your fitness progress but your health conditions. This will be able to monitor the medicine you take while also giving an in depth diagnostic of your health. In addition, programs are being made to substitute a skills that a doctor possesses. Robotics are making an uproar in the medical world as they could potentially replace doctors in surgery. In theory this is a good idea as it reduces human error but simultaneously eliminates the innovativeness and social skills that human’s possess. I believe that technology should be used to assist medicine and not completely takeover. The article suggests that less students will have to go to medical school to study about diseases because programs will already contain the information and all that is needed is to be able to operate them. We should not forget that it is not only the knowledge that is valuable but also the application of it. I do not think machines should replace man but rather it should assist it. This idea is far off from being used but I think we should not rely on machines as much as we should rely on ourselves.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *