Robot Anaesthesiologists Lose Their Jobs Because Of Humans

Robot Anesthesiologists Lose Their Jobs Because of Humans

A robot anaesthesiologist designed by Johnson & Johnson is going off the market. Only three years after approval, the company has stopped production on the Sedasys machine due to poor sales. The Sedasys machine was designed to provide anaesthetic to patients undergoing routine surgeries. The American Society of Anesthesiologists was especially alarmed because anaesthesiology is one of the riskier aspects of many surgeries. The machine, which administered the drugs while monitoring the patient's vital signs, was originally considered for use on a number of surgeries.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to use it only for procedures like endoscopies, colonoscopies and esophagogastroduodenoscopy. By mid-2015 it was being used in four hospitals. Apparently, that was not enough to justify its continued manufacture.

It's always unsettling to think that a robot could put a whole profession out of a job -- especially when that profession involves years of training and expensive education. Apparently, no one is entirely safe. On the other hand, more and more people are facing astoundingly high healthcare costs. The Sedasys system cost one tenth as much, per procedure, as a human anaesthesiologist.

[Washington Post]

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    I'm happy for robots to take over certain jobs. CEO's, managers, government and judges should all be done by robots. Let them be the first to lose jobs from robots and I'm sure they'll do a way better job.

    Robots are fantastic at simple reparative tasks (like manufacturing) but I can't see them taking over jobs that require complex analytical thinking any time soon.

    Some of this is hyperbole. The system in question isn't a cyborg anaesthetist. It's more an automated drug delivery system that uses feedback from patients vital signs to titrate the amount of anaesthetic given.

    Anaesthetists do this as part of their job, and require a lot of training to get it right. Too little can mean awareness during surgery, too much can mean the patient develops complications. In which case, an automated feedback-based system could assist the anaesthetist do their job better.

    But it wouldn't put anyone out of work due to the need for fuzzy logic of determining what is a true feedback value and what is artefact. Humans do this intuitively, but computers don't currently have the ability to make this judgement. Which could result in the automated system incorrectly giving too much or too little anaesthetic.

    So with this system a human would still be required. All the machine would do is lighten the workload. Which wouldn't make it appealing to a privatised US healthcare system looking to save money by reducing staffing.

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