This is a fascinating write-up and requires an in-depth understanding of how it translates to the complex and fascinating domain of patients with cancer.
Over the coming decades, however, agility will take on a new meaning: the ability to explore multiple domains at once and combine them into something that produces value. We’ll need computer scientists working with cancer scientists, for example, to identify specific genetic markers that could lead to a cure. To do this, we’ll need to learn how to go slower to have a greater impact.
This change will be profound. We will need to rethink old notions about how we compete, collaborate, and bring new products to market. More specifically, we will have to manage three profound shifts that will force us to widen and deepen connections between talent, technology, and information rather than just moving fast and breaking things.
Combinatorial creativity involves stitching together multiple domains, but the real-life, practical example is far from what the author envisages. Teams compete inside, for instance, for dominance or limited funds. Managers will inevitably step in to claim that their teams drive home the profits. Just more politics.
Increasingly, computer scientists have to become biologists or physicians have to develop a deeper understanding of the broad technology swathes. It is not possible to specialise in various niche domains, and the writeup represents the”far side of optimism”. I think we might strike a middle path- radical optimism and my cynicism.
Here’s another interesting bit:
What’s driven all this advancement has been Moore’s Law, our ability to double the power of our computing technology about every 18 months. Yet now Moore’s Law is approaching theoretical limits and will most likely come to an end in the next decade. New computing architectures, such as quantum and neuromorphic technologies, have great potential to further advancement, but will be far more complex than digital chips. Make no mistake, the transition will not be seamless.
Quantum computing hasn’t provided any specific breakthroughs for real-life scenarios. I haven’t been able to wrap my head around qubits as I haven’t seen any practical demonstration. I am not sure if the interest in it would be sustained because unless there is mass adoption, it cannot be translated into something meaningful.
We are still in the early stage of quantum, but I am convinced about quantum encryption. Beyond that, I have no clue if it would be the driver of the innovation as is being promised in the HBR write up.
Most people are incredibly technology naive, and I think the most significant success of Apple, for example, is not stoking the fear of the use of a smartphone. Users have invested in thousands of dollars for a shiny new iPhone but using all the bionic processing power (if I am allowed to borrow their marketing hype) for better filters on Instagram.
The author errs here with a huge fail. We aren’t in the digital era, yet. We are just generating data for the corporations and training their algorithms better. The digital age is where technology becomes accessible for the common man to use. Data ownership and retention means that we understand its implications and utilise it for our own benefit. It is just like the land laws and real estate with its own rules of buying and selling. Most users aren’t aware of the potential value of their location data either. Therefore, we haven’t even entered the post-digital era that the author claims has dawned upon us.
Rest of the write up is drivel (and part of the hype cycle) about exploration. It was compelling enough to interpret it in the context of slumbering hospitals; very few people have been able to unlock its data potential.
We need a disruption in oncology, and I have always advocated for more investments in the promise of radiation biology because it is the only thing that quantifies cancer cell death. Chemotherapy is only marginally effective in the treatment, and we are entirely at sea when it comes to biologicals or immunotherapy. It helps to push the needle by tooting it in the fancy plush conferences, but we owe it to our patients- when was the WHO step ladder analgesia looked at? Why aren’t we investing our resources in pain management? Why don’t we devise better fractionation schedules for palliative radiation therapy?
That requires quantification of symptoms, standardisation of patient-sets and a common language to share results across geographies. To me, that would signal the real disruption- of fixated ideas and ideologies. Cancer is divisive (in terms of access to resources to treat), but its agony should be a unifying force instead.