2015 Severinghaus Lecturer Steven L. Shafer, M.D., wonders if our next disruptive revolution could be a workforce in which “mechanical minds” replace human minds.

“IBM’s ‘Watson’ crushed human champions at Jeopardy,” said Dr. Shafer. “Watson may become the world’s best internist. Will the next-generation Watson replace us?”

Probably not, admits Dr. Shafer, who will deliver this year’s John W. Severinghaus Lecture on Translational Science at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2015 annual meeting in San Diego. He will address the types of disruptive innovations that drive change in technology and health care.

Although Dr. Shafer is dubious about the human combination of cognitive and physical skills being replaced by machines, he is certain that disruptive technology will alter health care – and that for physician anesthesiologists, such disruption is an opportunity, not a threat.

“From its very beginnings, the specialty of anesthesiology was founded on the most disruptive technology imaginable: rendering the...

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