Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality is evolving at a rapid pace and could revolutionise the health care industry. Both these technologies could open up a whole new dimension when it comes to healing people. But, have you ever imagined how it would feel like to heal yourself from within, with the help of microscopic nano-robots?
Well, a senior inventor at IBM has forecast the possibility of artificially intelligent nano-machines being injected into humans within the next 20 years to repair and enhance muscles, bones and even damaged cells.
John McNamara, who works at IBM Hursley Innovation Centre, has submitted evidence to the House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee in the UK, which is considering the economic, ethical and social implications of AI.
"We may see AI nano-machines being injected into our bodies. These will provide huge medical benefits, such as being able to repair damage to cells, muscles and bones – perhaps even augment them," he told Peers at the House.
According to McNamara, the technology may become so advanced within the next two decades that humans and machines will essentially be "melded" together, allowing human consciousness and cognitive ability to improve to the level that we could augment our own thoughts.
"...we see the creation of technology that can meld the biological with the technological, and so be able to enhance human cognitive capability directly, potentially offering greatly improved mental, as well as being able to utilise vast quantities of computing power to augment our own thought processes."
He further added, "Using this technology embedded in ourselves and in our surroundings, we begin to be able to control our environment with thoughts and gestures alone."
McNamara's claims are not some sci-fi fantasy. Scientists - including at Microsoft – are already working on a nano-computer made from DNA that lives inside cells and look for faults in the bodily networks like cancer (just like the antivirus software on your computer) and if it spots cancerous chances it would reboot the system and clear out the diseased cells.
However, critics including McNamara himself, have warned that the rise of AI could bring "huge disruption" to those working in the retail and service sectors (which includes healthcare) and spark widespread unemployment.
"Whereas today, being poor means being unable to afford the latest smartphone, tomorrow this could mean the difference between one group of people potentially having an extraordinary uplift in physical ability, cognitive ability, health, life span and another much wider group that do not," McNamara cautioned.