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The future of medicine: will we be crushed by elephants?

John Ellard

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Abstract

This Viewpoint is longer than an article should be, but the topic – your future and mine – is so centrally important to the medical community and to the whole country that I have breached my own standards. Tell me what you think about it.

Article Extract

To look into the future is difficult. One is thoroughly entangled in the present, and this keeps getting in the way, limiting one’s view. It is easy to think that things will change little and that one can keep on doing the same old things in the same old way – and get away with it.

For example, I remember many years ago reading an article in Scientific American by some researchers who had managed to get a piece of silicon to perform mathematical calculations. I could think of nothing more absurd than expecting silicon – the stuff one sees on a beach – to do mathematics. I moved on to the next article, passing over such an absurdity.

Wondering how to escape from that intellectual cage, I hit upon a device. I imagined that I was the occupant of a flying saucer, sent here from a galaxy far away, to report on our species for a particular reason. My report, to the Board of the Alpha Centauri Intergalactic Maintenance Company, follows.

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