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Stanford Big Ideas in Medicine

Went to the

Conference last weekend to join conversations with thought leaders from academia, business, policy, and journalism as they presented their Big Ideas that will shape the future of medicine. We heard about the dazzling advancements in Big Data & AI, Health Equity, Aging & Longevity, and Oncology by powerful advocates of the belief that science will solve our species' greatest sources of anxiety and anguish.

While truly awed by the achievements in these areas and goals of developing a vaccine for aging and finding secrets for living forever I was reminded that science and technology can only ask and answer certain sorts of questions. The instruments we are developing sometimes are life saving or life enhancing but their unintended consequences can overshadow the benefits. We need to be diligent about who chooses the questions and tools, who benefits, and who might be gravely harmed.

Progress in both medicine and life is socially and morally responsible only when it considers its impact on people of all ages and backgrounds. I was encouraged to continue advocating for keeping medicine focused on humans and not lost in technology and algorithms. As our mastery grows the mystery remains. And when our medicine can do no more to keep a person alive with dignity and all seems lost we can still comfort with the touch of our hands and our hearts.

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