daydream: future of medical technology

Every now and again, my boss asks my team and me to sharpen our minds by writing fiction. These brainstorming assignments are designed for team building and to unleash creative thought. The topic of this daydream is:

What do you think is going to be the role of medical technology in 2030?

It started as "Folding At Home," a crowd-sourced project to map protein folding. For just a few watt hours a month, a home computer would think about the problem of protein folding while idle--a very ambitious project at a time in which the rate of technological change was still expected to follow Moore's law.

"Moore's law" is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. The observation is named after Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, who described the trend in his 1965 paper.

Hindsight, they say, is 20/20, but it took less then forty years for Moore's law to crumble under the weight of its shortsightedness; nothing humans do is linear.

By the early 20th century, the two year estimate had shrunk to a year and a half; and by 2020, real competition for Intel finally emerged to drive innovation at breakneck speeds. Looking back on it, I am sure that Intel, AMD and Apple could never have imagined the world-changing computations that their ever-faster x86 chips were to unlock. But--as with any big conspiracy that starts in a small, smoky room--someone at AMD brainstormed a cheap benchmarking solution with a human-friendly spin. Not only do you trample the competition, but you do it while solving the problems of humanity. This all came at the tail end of a professor from Carnegie Mellon's eradication of AIDS through a retro-virus designed on crowd-sourced protein data--a great payoff on the Watt hour investment the early adopters contributed to the world.

Business only jumps on the wagon after viable profitability is displayed, but once it jumps, it sure adds some major momentum. Even accounting for the multi-exponential revision to Moore's law, the years following the adaptation of benchmark saw a boom in technological leaps that made people's heads spin. The Intel "8086" event, iconic of the time, witnessed the release of a CPU with more cores then the 8086 had transistors. The news and consumers gave it little notice; it was reviewed as a "meta" on the 17th page of The Guardian. The news did, however, take notice when, in 2025, the last unique human protein fold was analyzed. "While groundbreaking in the field of biology, we are now faced with finding a new benchmarking problem," an Intel employee was quoted saying. "For now, we will focus on the rest of the mammalian branch of life."

The real importance of news recognition came in the political and social support of human protein programing outside life threatening ailments. Much like the increasing speeds of computers, our understanding of natural processes of amino acids ballooned into new fields of research, bio-programing. The last year of "chemical-pills" was this year, 2027; nothing humans do is linear.