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The Resurgence of “They Did Surgery on a Grape”

– Contributed content –

Bunch of grapes

(Free-Photos, Pixabay)

3 Dec. 2018. If you spend any time on social media, chances are that you’ve noticed the resurgence of people saying “they did surgery on a grape!” Now, this may seem like another nonsensical fad created by meme culture. It originates from a 2017 online video published by the channel “Cheddar”, which shows footage of surgeons using a medical robot to perform the extremely delicate task of peeling the skin from a grape, moving it, replacing it, and stitching it back on.

This, of course, took the internet by storm, and while “they did surgery on a grape!” may simply be a catchy meme culture joke, it does show the interest that many of us derive from the use of artificial intelligence in medicine. If a machine can carry out a delicate surgical task on something as vulnerable and soft as a grape, we begin to wonder whether such machines could be put to work on people too. While this is an exciting concept, it also comes hand in hand with a whole host of theoretical questions. Here are just a few to consider.

Safety

The first question that springs to mind when we think of a robot carrying out surgery on us is “is this safe?” Now, the truth is that we are a far way from robots carrying out unmanned, independent surgery on patients. Any artificial intelligence that is used in modern day medicine will have been through a rigorous testing process and will comply to medical standards before being used on you.

Liability

Another concern that many of us have in regards to artificial intelligence in medicine is liability. When you are dealing with medical negligence in regards to a human’s motives and actions, a human can be held accountable for their mistakes. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, can’t be reprimanded for poor decision making. This leaves a grey area in regards to the law.

The human aspect of health care

Practitioners’ bedside manner is an extremely important part of our experience of medical healthcare. Many of us worry that we will lose out on this when we start incorporating AI into medical experiences. However, such critics forget the benefits of artificial intelligence in the emotional aspects of patient experience too. Therapeutic robots can be used as a form of distraction and emotional support for patients who are on the path to recovery, but who cannot come into contact with pets in the medical setting, or who may be quarantined or in isolation due to contagious diseases.

As “they did surgery on a grape” comes back into the public eye, hopefully a few debates surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in medicine will resurge too. These are just a few areas of interest that you might want to mull over.

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