Broker Check

Behind the Curve

| July 13, 2018
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In the July edition of our print newsletter Flourishing, I said that I expect biological science and clinical medicine to stage a breakout similar to the transformation we’ve seen over the past fifty years in information technology (IT).  In fact, an exponential breakout in medicine and biology will be mostly due to the accelerating advance of IT.

But, I’m afraid my recent prediction is already behind the curve.  My thinking speed, much less my reading speed, can’t keep up with the pace of innovation.  For example, the cost of sequencing one human genome has fallen three times faster than Moore’s Law, which for fifty years has accurately forecast that computer speed would double (and the cost of computing would halve) every eighteen months.  In fact, the cost of genome sequencing has dropped from several $billions to about $1000 in eighteen years. That’s far more than a 100,000-fold decrease, and the future value of that capacity for even one person is inestimably boundless.

Another example is CRISPR gene editing technology, which may well do for medicine what the Internet has done for communication.  Discoveries that used to require years of lab research can now often be achieved in a few days.  Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) promise to dramatically lower the cost of training doctors in coming years, as virtual patients and operating rooms proliferate.  If you can’t get your mind around that idea, I’m with you; but be assured that a future generation of medical students will have trouble understanding how their predecessors learned the craft any other way.

You’ve probably read about “the Internet of Things”, now affecting industries as diverse as travel and home appliances.  So, get ready for the “Internet of Medical Things”.  I’m not talking just about exercise wearables.  Microscopic robots (nanobots) will flow through your bloodstream, monitoring and recording nearly every aspect of your health and nutrition.  Your AI doctor (along with your real doctor) will prescribe any needed medications, customized to your specific biology and genome.  Indeed, the first such “pill” was approved for clinical use by the FDA this past winter. Your personal data will be protected by blockchain (distributed ledger) technology.  

At the risk of redundancy, I said in the newsletter that all this will change the way we live.  Specifically, I believe it will change the way we think about our health, our work, our retirement plans, and our legacies.  So, do your best to stay healthy, my friends; and wait for it.  Until then,

PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, and CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE!  mh

  1. For much more on the bio-medical revolution, see Peter Diamandis at www.diamandis.com, which was my source for the information in this essay.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

The opinions expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.

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