The new TV show coming out this fall called “Pure Genius” is about a wealthy Silicon Valley tech genius who starts a cutting edge (bleeding edge) hospital. Of course he isn’t just wealthy; he’s a billionaire. It doesn’t just have the latest technology; it has the not-yet-invented technology, or as one review called it, “improbably advanced technology.” Who wouldn’t want transparent tablet computers? Their wall size, touch monitors look amazing. Their eHub adhesive computer that monitors everything about the patient only took 8 months to develop. It is Star Trek in a hospital setting, “with the most brilliant minds in medicine and the most brilliant minds in technology,” they’re “going to get stuff done,” says character James Bell, tech mogul. It is upbeat and optimistic. It looks like fun, medical science fiction. I look forward to seeing what its writers can dream up.
However, the first thing I thought of when I saw the preview was that doctors will expect that present Electronic Health Records (EHR) software should be doing all of these things now, or perhaps next week at the latest. Yes, eventually some science fiction becomes reality.
Long before men walked on the moon, cartoons and movies showed astronauts rocketing their way there. “Martin Cooper, the chief engineer at Motorola, who invented the cell phone… states that Star Trek was his inspiration for the cell phone,” according to “How William Shatner Changed the World.” Its replicator inspired 3-D printers, and its Personal Access Display Devices look a lot like iPads. The movie Pretty in Pink inspired instant messaging. We now have flat screen televisions and video calls like the ones on The Jetsons.
Of course there are many devices thought of by science fiction writers that don’t exist, some not yet and some never. Although the replicator inspired 3-D printers, we don’t get our meals from replicators. Scotty doesn’t beam us up through a transporter that converts us into an energy pattern and back into us. We don’t have medical tricorders that can diagnose almost any disease or injury (although the Scanadu Scout prototype may someday be available to scan your vital signs by just placing it on your temple and to send the readings to your smartphone via Bluetooth). We will never have light sabers like those in Star Wars nor will we make the jump to light speed like the Millennium Falcon. We won’t be travelling forward and backward in time on some time machine or uploading our consciousness to some supercomputer as the Sheldon Cooper character in The Big Bang Theory would like to do.
Perhaps some of the devices the writers of Pure Genius imagine will become reality in time, just don’t expect to have them next week.