The health secretary has confirmed that in 20 years’ time technology will have surpassed the physician’s skill at diagnosis and humans will have become obsolete.
Inspired by the Government’s vision of the future, Professor Candid has just unveiled the Medibot. We caught up with him at his practice: ‘The Medibot is the first of its kind. It uses state of the art neural networks, has access to the latest diagnostic tools and is able to predict illness before it’s even happened. On its first day here at the practice it casually wheeled around the waiting room, put what looked like a sink plunger onto a patient’s forehead and informed him that he’d be dead of pancreatic cancer before the year was out. It then trundled off to get itself a coffee. An ordinary GP just couldn’t do that.’
We want to replace a thinking, intelligent, compassionate workforce with a robotic army
The professor admits that there have been some teething problems: ‘The Medibot doesn’t have any hands so it can’t really hold a pen, it uses a jetpack to go on house calls which terrified some of our older patients and in hindsight I think it was a mistake to arm it with a laser cannon.’
One patient, still shaking from her experience with the Medibot said: ‘I consulted it for a troublesome ingrown toenail. After making a few whirring noises its lid opened up and it aimed a laser-sighted .45 pistol at my forehead before asking me if I was Sarah Connor. I don’t even know who Sarah Connor is!’
‘Regrettably there was a software error,’ says Professor Candid, ‘the Medibot went berserk and took out a couple of reception staff before self-detonating. We’ve got some mopping up and wallpapering to do over the weekend before we re-open but we think it was a worthwhile experiment.’
‘I welcome Prof Candid’s attempt,’ says the health secretary, ‘In the future we want to replace a thinking, intelligent, compassionate workforce with a robotic army which will work all the hours God sends without the slightest complaint. Do you see where I’m going with this?’
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Edinburgh