By ANDY ANDREWS
Los Alamos World Futures Institute
- DNA Manipulation, Invasive/Non-invasive Techniques, Distribution, and How Far Do We Go?
Medicine is a broad category applicable to humans and animals inhabiting Earth. In most cases it deals with sustaining life as we know it and has an inherent hierarchy that has humans at the top. Accordingly, this list item is primarily concerned with medicine for humanity, noting that animals have a major role in the human existence.
First is discovery. Chance favors the prepared mind is a quote attributed to Louis Pasteur, who discovered pasteurization. It suggests that forming, sustaining, and enhancing the environment for alert minds is crucial to advancing medicine.
As an example, the major effort to document the human genome provided an environment for understanding the chemistry that defines the biological entity, thus allowing understanding of its strengths and weaknesses as well as identifying opportunities for manipulation. Understanding may be bad or good in consequence – humanity will have to decide.
Next is demand. In an ideal structure of humanity there would be no need for medicine other than trauma treatment. But getting to zero demand is highly unlikely. So how much treatment capacity does humanity need? Assuming that people in lesser developed areas of Earth deserve equal opportunities for treatment, how is it achieved? Too big a challenge?
Consider a developed area or county with both dense metropolitan as well as rural areas. Are the populations equal in medical expectancy? Do the differing populations have different requirements? And do the differing population densities create other medical issues to be addressed?
Closely related is distribution of medical practice and intervention as well as medicines and medical supplies. How is the availability of a treatment such as chemotherapy (or whatever evolves in the future) going to be administered and managed? Can treatments be capsulized in pill form to enhance distribution? And how are such treatments maintained under a quality control and assurance umbrella?
Also consider distance or remote medicine. A system of remote sensor and visual arrays can be imagined for a rural patient to visit a centrally located doctor, be it real or an artificial intelligence computer, in which diagnosis and treatment are performed and prescribed. And the same concept could apply to densely populated metropolitan areas to reduce contagion. Is it possible? A brief look at distance learning says yes. But what if a physical intervention is needed? The challenge is there.
Finally, what about drone medicine, the distribution of medical paraphernalia and supplies on an on-call basis? While drones are not suggested as the solution, they do suggest a type of solution for the distribution of medical practice and intervention.
Quoting from a recent New York Times article, “Something strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it.”
We need to fully understand the human body in the context of its current environment as well a projected and future environments. (Animals too.)
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