Shaping the Future of Medicine, Science, and Technology

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In the latest episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with Dr. José Morey, CEO and Founder of Ad Astra Media, Chief Medical Innovation Officer at Liberty BioSecurity, and the world’s first “intergalactic doctor”. We explored topics related to AI, space medicine, and human augmentation. We also dived into his work to make STEAM education accessible for everyone, and much, much more.

Below is a preview of our conversation:

Q: [In the age of the digital revolution] what changes need to happen to the curriculum of medical schools? If you were to talk to your younger self as a blossoming physician, what sort of direction would you give yourself today? What should they be thinking about?

A: One thing in general that I tend to kind of use as a soapbox is: I’m a strong advocate that coding should really be taught as a second language to everyone, not just physicians. I think we should be embedding coding in everything that we do. We really need to start thinking about education to train people to be critical thinkers and to be innovators. I don’t think it should be 100% across the board, for everyone. I think we need to have a span of different types of learning modalities.

Our educational system, the way we devised it, not just healthcare but in general, we devised it for the industrial age, for the manufacturing age. We devised it to try to make everyone fit that mold. And it works for many people, but there are a lot of people that it doesn’t work for. We need to be changing our educational model across the board for everyone, but one thing that I think needs to be put into to a certain degree, for a large group of individuals, if not almost the majority, is really coding as that second language as I mentioned.

Data analytics and artificial intelligence are really an effect, it’s not just healthcare physicians’ lives, it’s affecting everyone’s lives. There are applications that you use on a daily basis that everyone that listens to your show uses on a daily basis, that have ramifications that come from data analytics and artificial intelligence. Just like any tool that you get taught to use: a hammer, a car, or anything to use to augment humanity. The way we evolved, there’s a lot of limitations to what we have. Our five fingers and our two feet are only so much and we’ve been continually trying to augment that evolution with technology since we created fire. These new tools that we have, we have to understand their limitations, just like how you wouldn’t use a hammer when you need a screwdriver and vice versa.

Artificial intelligence and these other things have limitations to them. We have to be able to be cognizant of those limitations, because if we do not, we can run into the problems as you have seen perhaps in the criminal justice system or in other systems. These new applications end up perpetuating systemic biases because they’re limited by the data that they had. If people had that understanding that we’re implementing those limitations, they wouldn’t utilize them. I guess, they would say, “Oh no, well this isn’t ready for this particular application, it’s great for something else but for this particular application because it’s up to its limitations, it shouldn’t be used in this setting, at this moment. In the future, sure! But in this setting, at this moment, with the limitations that this tool has right now, we shouldn’t be doing it.”

If we had a general understanding into all of our society and to all of our different industries of data, the pros and the cons of machine learning, the pros and the cons of emerging technology, then I think people that are in those industries would make wiser decisions, just like they do when they understand other aspects of their industry. They say, “Oh well, that technology won’t work because I understand my industry well.” They also understand that technology to a certain degree.

Coding is one that I think needs to be put into everything, in physicians as well. In my earlier self, that’s something I would have said, “Start earlier, start learning these basic understandings, this basic coding infrastructure, because they’re going to have so many ramifications into everything that you do. You want to learn it so you can incorporate it and other types of technologies too as they’re evolving, whether it’s additive manufacturing, quantum computing, and all these things that are coming out – VR, AR, XR. It’s very important to have at least a general understanding of them and then, when needed, a deeper understanding as a project arises. What I like to say is being a Jack of all trades and a master as needed, so you have a general understanding of everything but when it comes a time, you have the foundation of how you study and dig deep into that particular subtype of technology, leaning everything that you need from that to be able to apply it to a particular project or a particular scope of work that you’re working on.” That’s what I would tell my younger self and that’s what I would tell everyone going forward.

The second thing I would say is to really incorporate more creativity. Usually, I work with a lot of technology companies and if they ask me to build a team out for them, they’re usually looking for an engineer. They’re usually looking for a computer scientist or mechanical engineer, but I usually try to bring in someone that brings a humanistic perspective. Often, some sort of artist. People tend to forget that humanity is at its core what technology should be about. Bringing in that creativity, bringing in that spark, bringing in that outside-the-box or what I like to call is a no-box type of thinker that doesn’t see any sort of limitations whatsoever, that’s how you really get to innovation. That’s how you really problem-solve with ingenuity. Bringing in more creativity, more art, more artistry, more appreciation for those kinds of things that make us human.

I tend to think of what are we going to take with us from Earth 100, 1000, 10,000 years from now? What will be that strain of code that we can look back and say, “Oh, that came from Earth?” That’s so interesting that you use that word or that phrase or we create buildings in a certain manner because we brought that with us. I think we have to keep putting more humanity into technology to try to help bring us together because technology is a tool. It has the capacity, potentially, to separate us, as we’ve seen with things like social media. It can be utilized in nefarious ways and we have to really be bringing humanity back into things whether it’s medical training or other training…

For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Dr. José Morey, or listen to the podcast version, below.

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