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Dec 17, 2018

2040: How technological innovation will have changed our lives and society

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

It’s 2040. I’m 80 years old and fully able to manage my own health. We finally have the secure information infrastructure that allows us to collect, analyze and compare our health and behavioral data ourselves. Since all my health data has been digitized and can be accessed via the cloud, I can work alongside my care team to proactively manage my health.

 

Artificial Intelligence, one of the most hyped topics of 2018, has had an even bigger impact than the Internet in the late 90's – it changed everything. Deep insights into what keeps me healthy are available to me and my virtual care providers due to huge advances in AI-enabled diagnostic and therapeutic tools

 

Artificial Intelligence has helped uncover patterns that were previously untraceable. I rely on my own "digital twin", a virtual 4D version of myself that covers my complete medical history: genetic, clinical and behavioral. It is used to accurately predict and simulate my health outcomes. It can preempt if my health is trending in the wrong direction, automatically recommending then corrective actions are to help prevent or treat current, or future, ailments.

It’s 2040. I’m 80 years old and fully able to manage my own health. We finally have the secure information infrastructure that allows us to collect, analyze and compare our health and behavioral data ourselves. Since all my health data has been digitized and can be accessed via the cloud, I can work alongside my care team to proactively manage my health.

My digital twin is linked to millions of others, forming a gigantic data ocean, which has created the possibility of large-scale analysis of health information. This has led to new insights and clinical breakthroughs that allowed affordable therapies to be developed for diseases that were difficult to treat in 2018. We now have access to highly personalized therapies, including genetic engineering. 

 

My digital twin recently showed the development of a serious heart problem, that if treated early enough, is easily preventable. Together with my doctors, I decided to have a pre-emptive operation. I didn’t worry too much about the outcome because data shows that almost all people of my age and my condition have successfully been through similar treatment. The surgery was performed quickly and accurately by a surgeon who works in a joint human/robot team. The robots automatically adjust the therapy to the needs of the patient and are constantly self-improving by exchanging and analyzing treatment data with other machines around the globe. I walked out of the lab after a couple of hours, knowing that a serious problem was averted.

 

Back to 2018. At Philips I’m working on innovations that have a positive impact on people’s lives and society. It is one of the reasons why I enjoy coming to work every day. I firmly believe in the boundless opportunities of innovation.  There is much to look forward to: cheap and rapid genome analysis will bring new therapies and save lives by detecting diseases earlier. Artificial intelligence, robots and Blockchain will be the basis of the next wave of automation, and the reduction of substantial waste in healthcare systems. Virtual reality and chat bots using artificial intelligence will impact the way we work together with machines.

 

As Yogi Berra observed: it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Just think how different it was in 1998 - that was only 20 years ago. Technology has evolved faster than we could have ever imagined. Back then, only 3% of the world's population was connected to the internet and few Dutch people saw the utility of a mobile phone. Many thought that the postal service and fixed phone lines were just fine and didn’t see any need to be communicating all day long. In reality, smart phones and apps have changed our behaviors, politics and culture exponentially.

 

There will be no straight path from 2018 to 2040. Many of the innovations that will be part of our daily lives then have yet to be conceptualized.  The rate and extent of adoption of innovation is unpredictable. Moreover, every technology has unintended consequences. We have recently seen this with the rapid growth of fake news on social media and its impact on politics. But one thing is certain: technology will have an ever-greater impact on our society. It is up to us to ensure that this impact remains positive. We need to involve a broad spectrum of society to guide the proper application of the technology. With the right control mechanisms in place and a human view of technology, life in 2040 will be healthy and worthwhile.

 

I love kite surfing and hope to be able to still do it at 80. Whether that will be the case cannot be predicted. But, innovation -and my friends and family- will support me in my quest to stay healthy. That much I can predict.

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Jeroen Tas

Jeroen Tas

Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer

Jeroen Tas is Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer of Royal Philips. Jeroen is an experienced global executive and entrepreneur with a track record of leading innovation in the healthcare, information technology and financial services industries. Leading the company’s global Innovation & Strategy organization, he’s responsible for creating a pipeline of innovative business propositions that address emerging customer needs and enable a high-growth, profitable health continuum strategy.

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