Will Robots Take Over our Jobs?
Most of you have probably seen the latest video displaying Google’s Boston Dynamics robot, Atlas1. It opens doors, walks in the snow while maintaining its balance, and gets back up on its own when knocked down (cue: Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping”2). Atlas represents significant leaps forward in the area of robotics and perhaps human-robot relations. However, not everyone is welcoming these new developments. Some, such as physicist Stephen Hawking, see danger, even apocalypse. One recent story even notes that the U.S. president is worried that robots will be taking jobs away from human Americans.3
The contest between man and machine is legendary, often mingling the mayhem with the miraculous as the fight against dehumanization ensues. According to ScienceDaily, another recently introduced system may be bringing the competition one step closer for respiratory therapists. Developed by a team of three physician-researchers at Hiroshima University and Fukushima Medical University, in collaboration with Pioneer Corporation, the system pairs a specialized electronic stethoscope with a software application called the “Respiratory Sounds Visualizer.” Using audio data from the stethoscope, the visualizer “analyzes the lung sounds and maps them on a five-sided chart. Each of the five axes represents one of the five types of lung sounds.”4 The axis with the greatest length of red represents the likely diagnosis. The selling point for this new medical miracle is that the electronic stethoscope eliminates background noise such as is experienced in busy emergency rooms—a hurdle that the human ear cannot overcome for a proper diagnosis, or at least that’s the pitch. What’s next, a self-balancing robot in a lab coat wearing a stethoscope around its neck?