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Open Source Robotic Surgeon

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the with-many-eyes-all-bugs-are-still-potentially-lethal dept.

Medicine 42

GlobalEcho writes "Researchers have created a second version of the Raven robotic surgeon, with open-source control code. 'UW researchers also created software to work with the Robot Operating System, a popular open-source robotics code, so labs can easily connect the Raven to other devices and share ideas.' Unfortunately for them, according to The Economist, 'there is [a] legal problem. Intuitive Surgical, the company behind the da Vinci [robot], holds patents that could make launching a commercial competitor tricky — at least in the immediate future."

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42 comments

Already in 2004 / 2005... (4, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272235)

... I was at the robotics lab of Polytechnical University, Milano. They already then battled with the same problem: patents lurking, and companies behind them. Patents are in the way of becoming an ever bigger obstacle to innovation. Which is sad.

Patents have outlived their usefulness (3, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272259)

They were created to encourage invention for the good of the public. Now they lean heavily toward the good of corporations instead, benefiting the public far less.

The internet is here. We can share our ideas with the human race faster than ever before, and any one of six billion people can collaborate with any other of the six billion, unlike when patents were invented and you maximum collaborators might be in the dozens.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (4, Insightful)

Calibax (151875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272535)

Sometimes patents are not useful, but sometimes they are.

Intuitive Surgical have spent many millions developing surgical robotics and even more millions getting the products certified and convincing doctors (some of the most conservative people around) that they can be used safely. It's reasonable that they receive substantial rewards for their work for some limited time period. It's far, far less expensive to develop the second example of a brand new concept. It's reasonable to assume that absent some legal impairment Intuitive products would be quickly copied and their prices undercut.

Truly novel products are EXACTLY why patents are are still needed. This is especially true for medical devices that can directly benefit humanity. Just because we have a substantial number of unfortunate software patents doesn't mean that the concept, when properly applied, isn't valid. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272637)

What you are describing is the process of commercialising a product, and also the process of regulation capture. Most of the money invested here hasn't gone to research and development, but has been used to create barriers to competition. So instead of having three or four companies competing for a market we end up with only one. We have created a monopoly and therefore slowing progress in an area that could benefit all of us.

Many many researches with new ideas about how to improve on robotic surgery are not pursuing them because they know it is almost impossible to bring them to market unless you sell them to Intuitive Surgical for peanuts.

So many missed opportunities.

Patents that hinder innovation (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273267)

What you are describing is the process of commercialising a product, and also the process of regulation capture. Most of the money invested here hasn't gone to research and development, but has been used to create barriers to competition. So instead of having three or four companies competing for a market we end up with only one. We have created a monopoly and therefore slowing progress in an area that could benefit all of us.

Undoubtedly Intuitive Surgical did invest some money into developing their da Vinci surgical robot, but their machines are big and cumbersome

The point being, the patents that they have are hindering the progress of others developing lighter, more mobile, more agile versions of surgical robots

It's akin to a company that holds the patents are making heavy armoured tanks and because of those patents, nobody can manufacture and legally sell fuel saving cars

It's totally ridiculous !

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275757)

Many many researches with new ideas about how to improve on robotic surgery are not pursuing them because they know it is almost impossible to bring them to market unless you sell them to Intuitive Surgical for peanuts.

Citations please.

If you develop a new idea that extends a previously patented idea, just patent it. If it's any good, Intuitive Surgical or someone else will buy it. If the idea doesn't depend on someone's patent then run with it.

There seems to be this idea around these days that all ideas should be free for anyone to use. If you don't have the prospect of capitalizing on your investment, why do it? Why develop something knowing that others will be free to sell a copy without that investment? Just wait for some other sucker to develop it and then copy it.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272683)

Truly novel products don't need patents to be thought up, just people. And we have more highly educated people in the world today than at any time in the past. If one guy doesn't invent it, someone else will. As long as nobody stops them.

Your own example shows that the real problem is that marketing costs a lot of money up front, especially when attempting to create a new market, and the company understandably would like to recoup that cost through monopoly pricing. If that's the problem, then the economists should come up with a better system than one which stifles the development of ideas because some company half way across the world paid for a piece of paper.

That said, you also haven't shown that the world benefits more from 1) having one company spending a fortune to create a market exclusively for itself, as opposed to 2) having lots of companies gradually evolve a market where they all compete while investing their profits.

RSA Public Key is now in the public domain. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272983)

Without patents RSA would have Bern a trade secret. while one can reverse engineer circuit chips to fabricate identical chips, to actually understand the physics underlying the design of an IC is far more difficult if all you have is some sample chips and IC reverse engineering equipment.

Patents only forbid cometing implementations not the publication of competing designs. That's why Fremont, California's SourceForge is permitted to provide collaboration tools for the development of the source code that captures only design but becomes infringing only when it is compiled.

Further patents are required to provide a procedure that would enable one practiced in the art to reproduce the invention. That's how all us Webmasters know how Google PageRank works, and that's what enables generic pharmaceutical companies to produce inexpensive yet highly effective medicines once the brand name manufacturers have been repaid for the billions of dollars and decades of blood, sweat, toil and tears required to invent a new medicine that will benefit all of humanity, in many cases for the rest of eternity.

Re:RSA Public Key is now in the public domain. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273369)

Without patents RSA would have Bern a trade secret.

So what? There are many competing encryption methods, and there are plenty of competent researchers.

The idea of RSA itself had been discovered before in the UK by Clifford Cocks, so let's not argue that public key cryptography would never have happened without Rivest, Shamir and Adleman. Incidentally, if patents didn't exist and the RSA company hadn't been formed, you betcha that the idea of RSA would still have been published, since the authors were at MIT. In academia, there's a little thing called publish or perish.

Patents only forbid cometing implementations not the publication of competing designs.

Of course, who wouldn't want to design a system that nobody can use without paying a third party for the privilege? It's an open secret that the software on sourceforge that contains patented ideas is still compiled and used illegally. All that patents actually accomplish is that users must hide what they are doing, or risk being sued.

Further patents are required to provide a procedure that would enable one practiced in the art to reproduce the invention. That's how all us Webmasters know how Google PageRank works,

Here's a newsflash for you: PageRank is only one small component of how Google ranks web pages. There are lots of other signals, like the size of the fonts, the layout, the blink tag (cool, I finally got to mention them on slashdot), etc. And Google doesn't publish any detailed information about that. Webmasters know what works because 1) Google explains some of its rules to them and 2) by experimentation. You can always experiment with any search engine as a black box - you try several changes, and keep the ones that improve the ranking. No patents needed.

Besides, the PageRank equation isn't particularly novel. It's been studied by mathematicians before: it's one of the simplest dynamics on a network. We're talking 1950s and earlier.

and that's what enables generic pharmaceutical companies to produce inexpensive yet highly effective medicines once the brand name manufacturers have been repaid for the billions of dollars and decades of blood, sweat, toil and tears required to invent a new medicine that will benefit all of humanity, in many cases for the rest of eternity.

That's been debunked before.

Re:RSA Public Key is now in the public domain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275847)

and that's what enables generic
    pharmaceutical companies to produce inexpensive yet highly effective
    medicines once the brand name manufacturers have been repaid for the billions
    of dollars and decades of blood, sweat, toil and tears required to invent a
    new medicine that will benefit all of humanity, in many cases for the rest of
    eternity.

That's been debunked before.

Citation please?

Re:RSA Public Key is now in the public domain. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39279161)

Since a paper was published months prior to the patent filing, it would NOT have been a trade secret.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39278727)

Truly novel products don't need patents to be thought up, just people.

Not quite sure what that's even supposed to mean. Perhaps you mean that those serendipitous lightbulb moments would still occur. That's true. But it's also trivial.

See, the development of most products requires large amounts of equipment, expertise and coordinated effort. All that stuff costs. To paraphrase WSC: patents [when correctly applied] are the worst way of repaying that investment, apart from all the other ones.

You seem to have bought into the romantic notion of the lone genius in his shed. If it ever did work like that, it doesn't anymore.

That said, you also haven't shown that the world benefits more from 1) having one company spending a fortune to create a market exclusively for itself, as opposed to 2) having lots of companies gradually evolve a market where they all compete while investing their profits.

And you haven't shown otherwise.

Perhaps you could start by explaining why anyone would waste time & money on R&D if a freeloading competitor who isn't hampered by said costs can crib their invention and undercut them.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39282601)

Perhaps you mean that those serendipitous lightbulb moments would still occur. That's true. But it's also trivial.

Not trivial at all. The heart of the matter, since the justification of patents is that these ideas are so precious that anyone who has them must be afforded a monopoly to exploit them, otherwise society would lose out.

Perhaps you could start by explaining why anyone would waste time & money on R&D if a freeloading competitor who isn't hampered by said costs can crib their invention and undercut them.

I don't have to show anything of the sort. Your premise that wasting time and money on R&D is necessary is flawed. It's thinking like a gambler: invest a lot of money upfront, and then find some clients later.

In markets where there are no patents, the R&D is concurrent with paying customers getting products. The inventions are evolutionary changes, and competitors can crib all they like, since their costs are comparable.

Re:Patents have outlived their usefulness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274277)

A surgical robot is not a novel idea. The underlying technology is ready (mechanics, sensors, software controllers), and the need is there. Patents won't make it any faster. There is use for a surgical robot, and someone will build it. This story is an example.

I'm a surgeon who uses the DaVinci robotic system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275701)

There is absolutely zero competition in this field, and I think patents have a lot to do with it. Not only that, the DaVinci system is so entrenched that it will be almost impossible for future competitors to arise. I don't have any direct knowledge, but it is reasonable to assume that the company files more patents every year in association with every incremental upgrade of their products, so I don't see the "limited time period" expiring for a long time, if ever. I first recall hearing of the DaVinci system sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s, so the original patents ought to be nearly 17 years old by now, but it doesn't matter.

I also have to say that motives involved in robotic surgery have way more to do with making money than with improving care to patients. The robotic system has some unique capabilities, but in practice it is more often used as a fancy way to do operations that could be done just as well with conventional laparoscopic surgery for much less cost. It is a lot like all the ads for "laser surgery" that were so common in the 1980s and 1990s. It's a classic example of selling things to "buyers" who are not spending their own money. Intuitive convinces surgeons to get trained on the robot by implying that robotic surgeons will get more referrals and patients (and hence income) than those lacking such training. Also, they know that in many respects their system really is fun and "cool" to use, irrespective of any patient benefit. Once surgeons buy into it, they can push their hospitals to invest in the multimillion dollar equipment, again with models showing that the hospital will benefit because patients will go there preferentially. Of course, the same thing gets done at every hospital, so referral patterns really don't change. It's kind of like superpowers selling arms to various third world nations. The net change is that patients get operations that are perhaps a little better or less painful, but definitely much more expensive, with Intuitive taking a big cut of the health care dollars involved.

Another example of patents driving up the cost of health care is with so called "wound vacs", or vaccuum-assisted-closure devices for open wounds. It is a great idea, but the price of the equipment is ridiculous. The patient basically gets attached to a small, rechargeble vaccum system that he/she carries around in a purse-sized bag. The device appears to be about as complicated as a small consumer appliance that might be available at WalMart for about $35, but because it is "medical" and covered by patents, it costs around $2500.

Re:I'm a surgeon who uses the DaVinci robotic syst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39276171)

While I agree with much of the parent post, I disagree about the benefits.

Recently one of my aunts needed surgery for a rare pancreatic/liver problem - so rare that her local surgeon felt uncomfortable tackling it and referred her to a doctor specializing in this area at Stanford University Hospital in California - over a thousand miles away. Because of the Da Vinci system, she was able to have the work-up and surgery done in a local hospital without having the costs associated with traveling (flights, hotels, time away from home) and the stress of being in a strange environment at a difficult time.

The parent post seems to be concerned only with how much money a doctor can make from the system, and not the convenience to the patient.

Re:Already in 2004 / 2005... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272731)

http://goo.gl/vkdJu

Asian Chick doing it

App for that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272271)

Will it be integrated in to Facebook or a iPhone/iPad app?

Re:App for that? (4, Funny)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272519)

It looks like you're having open heart surgery. Would you like some help with stabilization of the left ventricle?

Raven the robotic crow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272281)

...am I the only one picturing a large metallic Crow-bird saying:

"Ready to operate, relaxeeeeee" (with metallic 80s speech synthesizer sound)

And then the Crow chops the poor chaps innards to pieces.

New Open Source Horror movie in the making...for sure...

how about (1)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272291)

a nurse? thats the only open source stuff i am missing in my basement all these days!

Re:how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272403)

I'll gladly open source myself in your basement -Gaylord Fokker

Ahem... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272505)

Wanna save this guy's life?

Only if you can convince man to stop enslaving themselves over squabbles of "intellectual" property.

Someone found a way to do that...

Oh ya?

Ya but he patented the process and sat on it, so we're stuck watching society blossom into corporate monopoly for the children dystopia.

Raven?! (1)

dido (9125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272649)

Seems like a poor choice for a name for such a system. My first thought on hearing that was this:

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted--nevermore!

Patents are vitally important to us. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272925)

This is not the troll you think it is. I would never have made a career of coding had I not read the gnu manifesto in 1988, then spent a solid month blowing off my job and damn near getting fired so I could read the emacs source code.

Without patents we would have trade secrets. many vitally important processes and inventions would go to their inventors graves. consider that we have ancient archaelogical artifacts that in some ways are superior to modern products but that we cannot reverse engineer.

Had the recipe for coca cola ever been patented you could make it in your kitchen. only a very few are trusted with the complete recipe, with the chemistry of natural flavorings being so complex no one has ever managed to reverse engineer it.

Patents do not impede innovation they drive it. where would we be had not mp3 been patented? apple would not have invented QuickTime comprssed auipdio and Xiph would not have created ogg vorbis, both of which are better than mp3, because mp3 while not the best would have bend regarded as good enough.

Now I'm not saying that the oaten system is not abused or not in need in reform. what I am saying is that patents must only be granted when they really are novel and unobvious. patents are granted all the time despite prior art being readily at hand, and they are granted when any schoolchild could have thought the invention up with but a few moments thought.

My understanding is that the patent office is paid when patents are granted. every capitalist knows that's the wrong kind of incentive.

Instead one should pay to apply, with substantial, interest bearing bond required for any grant of a patent to be enforceable. when the term expires ones bond is refunded with interest. if so much as one claim is quashed then the bond is forfeited and used for some productive purpose other than just operating the patent office, such as funding an online corpus of prior art.

I'll write this up at more length sometime soon at http://www.softwareproblem.net/social/

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

shikitohno (2559719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273597)

I don't think there's actually too many people who are opposed to the principle behind patents. Most people can probably agree that if someone invents something useful that helps people out, they deserve to have the opportunity to be compensated for it if they so desire. I'd say most people take issue with the many serious abuses of the system, and silly laws around it. This isn't just restricted to patents, but is a broader issue with the current state of intellectual property laws in general. Looks at how many things get their copyright extended again and again which would have been out of copyright long ago in a sane system.

There's also plenty of situations where it genuinely interferes with people trying to advance technologies. Between its impeding progress, excessive extensions and horrible abuses by IP rights holders, it's hard for me to resist saying, "To hell with this. Let's just scrap the whole damn system and start over from scratch, we've screwed it up too much." I'm not entirely opposed to the ideas behind it, but I'm increasingly becoming of the opinion that our current system has just been messed up to much to save it. In my opinion, it'd be a waste of time trying to simply reform it, and the easiest course of action would just be rebuilding it from the ground up, and trying not to make the same mistakes next time.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273677)

Without patents we would have trade secrets. many vitally important processes and inventions would go to their inventors graves.

Perhaps. Except that if you're expecting to make use of it for more than 25 years you'll keep it as a trade secret.

consider that we have ancient archaelogical artifacts that in some ways are superior to modern products but that we cannot reverse engineer.

Like what?

Had the recipe for coca cola ever been patented you could make it in your kitchen. only a very few are trusted with the complete recipe, with the chemistry of natural flavorings being so complex no one has ever managed to reverse engineer it.

How is that an argument in favour of patents?

Patents do not impede innovation they drive it. where would we be had not mp3 been patented? apple would not have invented QuickTime comprssed auipdio and Xiph would not have created ogg vorbis, both of which are better than mp3, because mp3 while not the best would have bend regarded as good enough.

Sounds doubtful to me. Creating better compression schemes is a quite popular area of research. It woult remain so in the absence of patents. Computer languages aren't generally patented, yet there is no shortage of innovation and turnover.

I'm not saying I'm for or against patents, but I don't think your arguments are convinving.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275669)

Honestly, the length of time for patents might be just as bad as copyright.

20 years might have been fine for, say, the 1800s... not so much nowadays. Maybe 3-5 years would be better.

Is there a reason 20 years was picked?

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

Ocrad (773915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275867)

Without patents we would have trade secrets.

Then outlaw trade secrets by requiring that the schematic diagram, source code, recipe, etc, of anything sold to the public must be made public.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275931)

I hate to break it to you about Coca Cola, but there are other makers of cola now.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275951)

Patents do not impede innovation they drive it. where would we be had not mp3 been patented? apple would not have invented QuickTime comprssed auipdio and Xiph would not have created ogg vorbis, both of which are better than mp3, because mp3 while not the best would have bend regarded as good enough.

Thank goodness the average person doesn't consider MP3 as good enough and maintains most of their audio collections in Ogg Vorbis format.

In all seriousness, "where would we be" exactly? These examples aren't convincing me that you or anyone else has any clue what developments would or wouldn't have been made had these technologies been patented or not. To imply that patents are required to spur innovation discounts the contribution of the plethora of freely available standards, specifications, and algorithms that spurred the development of modern computing and the Internet itself. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a patent system, just that the examples provided do little to support your claims.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39279039)

Just to throw this out there. I can't tell the difference between coca-cola and the generic rip-offs. I'm sure somebody who actually cared could, but to the average consumer it's fine - and cheap.

Re:Patents are vitally important to us. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39279275)

Had the recipe for coca cola ever been patented you could make it in your kitchen. only a very few are trusted with the complete recipe, with the chemistry of natural flavorings being so complex no one has ever managed to reverse engineer it.

And yet, in spite of the patent system, we can't. Are you arguing for compulsory patents?

Patents do not impede innovation they drive it. where would we be had not mp3 been patented? apple would not have invented QuickTime comprssed auipdio and Xiph would not have created ogg vorbis, both of which are better than mp3, because mp3 while not the best would have bend regarded as good enough.

I guess their efforts would have gone into improving upon mp3 rather than bending over backwards to avoid obvious but patented techniques.

Patent trolls? Not this time... (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273807)

Hey, all, I know that you'd love to see an open-source robotics device that's every bit as fantastic as the DaVinci, but let's have some perspective here. Intuitive Surgical is not a patent troll. They didn't patent "robots doing stuff in a hospital" or something just as insanely broad. They aren't a company that just sits there patenting things, and waiting for the right time to file lawsuits. They're a real company that genuinely innovated; the DaVinci has revolutionized many surgical procedures, and is unparalleled in the marketplace.

I mean, this is a robot that does joint replacement procedures better than any surgeon an average person is likely to ever have look at them, and in such a way that the recovery time is dramatically lessened as well. Think about that last part, too...in an environment where the debate on health care revolves around how expensive medical procedures are in the United States, here's a revolutionary system that dramatically lowers the cost of some very common and extremely expensive procedures while actually improving the level of health care the patient receives.

Intuitive Surgical is like the Apple Computer of surgical automation, and the DaVinci is the iPod/iTunes system. Other products had existed before, but none had taken the approach that the DaVinci did, and they have been rewarded for their innovation and success. This is exactly, EXACTLY what patents are supposed to do: allow a company that innovates to reap the economic rewards of that innovation for a time. The fact that a commercial company has patented something they invented is not inherently bad.

Open Source Surgeon? Bad idea. (1)

rmandevi (2168940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273939)

From the article: UW researchers also created software to work with the Robot Operating System, a popular open-source robotics code, so labs can easily connect the Raven to other devices and share ideas. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of open source and I use it all the time. But this isn't desktop software, server software, or mobile device software. This isn't mission-critical software, where a bug can mean only millions of lost dollars. This is life-critical software--when it fails, someone dies. That's right up there with nuclear reactor controls, submarine life support systems, fly-by-wire, and such things. NASA knows how to do this right. See http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/06/writestuff.html [fastcompany.com] for how they do it. In part, they do it by keeping the scope as small as possible and re-defining the term "anal-retentive", from requirements to testing and beyond. Their stuff runs on the bare hardware, not the operating system, because there isn't an operating system in the world that is stable enough for this. The rest of us don't know how to do this right; there are probably less than a thousand people who know how to make software of this quality. If there's an open-source interface that reads data from the machine, I'm all for that. If you can use open-source software to control this thing, I'll make sure that my surgeon _isn't_ using it the next time I go under the knife.

Re:Open Source Surgeon? Bad idea. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274369)

It's a gimmick. Software that controls medical devices has to be locked down and validated. So maybe it's open source in that you can read the source, and you could possibly even install your own modifications on a device if you could buy or build one, but you couldn't do surgery with it except, maybe, under very carefully controlled (and ethics board approved) research conditions.

A surgeon's perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39276173)

I think you are conflating "OSS licensing" with "community development". The validation of embedded code that you describe has nothing to do with its licensing. If I had, say, a pacemaker, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest if the manufacturer released its code under the GPL. I can't see why they would do so, but it wouldn't have any effect on whether the code itself meets the stringent requirements.

Also (being a surgeon who uses robotics), it's misleading to state the situation as being "when it fails, someone dies". The commercial Da Vinci system is very complex, and generates alerts, faults, and warnings quite frequently, for a variety of reasons, although I don't know if any of these are software bugs. When an error condition arises, the machine simply freezes and doesn't respond until the problem is resolved. Unlike a nuclear reactor or an aircraft in flight, if the machine stops working, basically nothing further happens. In nearly all cases, the "worst case scenario" is that the surgeon simply doesn't use the robot and completes the operation with conventional surgery. That's not to say that there couldn't be some unusual circumstance in which a bug would actively cause serious harm, but this is not remotely comparable to controlling a nuclear reactor, although it might be treated just as stringently by regulatory agencies.

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