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Revolutionizing Health Care With AI & Robotics

Robotics, Surgical Robotics, AI3 min read

Sina Kahen

Meet Sina Kahen

Head of Strategy & Innovation @ VAICE

United Kingdom

Sina Kahen graduated as a Biomedical Scientist and has an MBA from Imperial College Business School.

He hails from the AI and Medical Tech industries, with experience spanning strategy, design, and innovation in over 50 countries.

A thought-leader in Conversational AI, and a keynote speaker on artificial intelligence, the future of healthcare, and the links between emotions and technology.

His experience involves making products and services more emotionally intelligent, while bringing AI and robotics into healthcare provision using principles from behavioral science, biomimicry, and philosophy to present ideas and frameworks to global audiences such as BBC, Amazon, O2, and Shell.

Here one of his interviews: Emotionally Intelligent Voice Technology Gives Advice

What inspired you to pursue a career in Ai & Medical Robotics?

I graduated as a biomedical scientist and was on my way to becoming a dentist - so AI and robotics were not on the agenda at all.

Thanks to my mentor Dr. David Kennard, who introduced me to the commercial side of science and technology, I was able to find my place in the medical devices industry.

It was only after I noticed the tendency for inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies of non-AI based medical devices that I knew I wanted to be part of the AI revolution that would improve healthcare.

What is your main interest in working on surgical robotics?

We've already seen how robotics and automation have become embedded in so many industries around the world, so I was bound to enter the world of surgery.

For me, the interest in this space is derived from a deep commitment to needs-based innovation as opposed to tech-based innovation.

In other words, the appeal of surgical robotics for me comes from its inevitable ability to provide genuine solutions to healthcare needs, as opposed to it being a sexy-sounding technology that cannot have its value quantified.

My interest is in quantifying that value and commercializing it.

Explain the types of surgeries that can be performed safely with the help of robots?

The most common use of robotic surgery today is for minimally invasive procedures that are performed through small incisions.

Since these operations require the highest level of control and precision, it was only natural for this to be the starting point for the surgical robotic industry.

However, we are now seeing the use cases expand, especially in orthopedics where my focus is.

The safety of such systems has been proven, and with increasing data sets we will only see this improvement.

In the future, can surgery be performed autonomously by robots?

Ultimately, everything can be done autonomously by the robots of the future.

This doesn't necessarily mean it should be (but let's leave the ethical side of AI for the moment).

I think the answer to this question will be determined by how patient attitudes to autonomous systems evolve, and by the value that autonomous robots will be able to clearly provide.

Could human surgeons be replaced by robots?

Within healthcare in general, emotional intelligence is fundamental. We’re all in this for the patient, and the patient needs the human touch.

For patients who are awake, I think a certain element of humanity will definitely be needed - especially for the time being until human attitudes to robotics evolves.

In the operating room, the robots are currently assisting surgeons, rather than replacing them.

Technically speaking, human surgeons can be replaced by robots in the future, since most of the human activity is based on rules that can be copied by an algorithm.

However, instinct and gut-feeling play important roles in surgeon behavior. How do we code for instinct?

That's the golden ticket.

Do you have any medical robotics projects that want to share your experience?

My main focus now is on discovering and quantifying the value of surgical robotics in a number of orthopedic use cases.

With this information, I’m mapping out the go-to-market strategy for the successful robotic candidate.

The technology is there - it’s the commercialization that requires my focus. That’s all I can say for now.

How can robots be useful to help fight the spread of a deadly outbreak?

In many ways.

Robots are already being used to counter the damaging impact of COVID-19: to disinfect areas, to deliver medications/food, to measure vital signs, to assist border controls, to aid in vaccine design and development.

We will only see this continue and expand.