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Former Intel CEO Rips Medical Research

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the git-r-done dept.

Biotech 484

Himuanam writes "Former Intel CEO Grove rips on the medical research community, contrasting their lack of progress with the tech industry's juggernaut of breakthroughs over the past half-century or so. 'On Sunday afternoon, Grove is unleashing a scathing critique of the nation's biomedical establishment. In a speech at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, he challenges big pharma companies, many of which haven't had an important new compound approved in ages, and academic researchers who are content with getting NIH grants and publishing research papers with little regard to whether their work leads to something that can alleviate disease, to change their ways.'"

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Breakthroughs? (3, Insightful)

tx_derf (1060278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246977)

The only reason Intel has had any motivation to come up with any real breakthroughs in the last 20 years is AMD eating their lunch with the Opetron. All they had in 2003 was the Itanium and we all know how big of a turd that was.

Re:Breakthroughs? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21246999)

So what your saying is e need a smaller, new pharm. company to come along and make a smaller, more powerful medication?

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

tx_derf (1060278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247063)

No. I'm saying that Intel wasn't even bothering to come up with any breakthroughs until another company started to give them some real competition.

Re:Breakthroughs? (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247087)

No. I'm saying that Intel wasn't even bothering to come up with any breakthroughs until another company started to give them some real competition.

Yet here we have dozens of pharma companies, plus universities, all slaving away over a cage full of infected monkies, hugely profitable all the same, because there's so many different ailments of the human race, where a processor is pretty much a processor.

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

tx_derf (1060278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247131)

Yes, that and as has been alluded to in other posts here, bio-tech research is so much more complicated than processor design. Also, the repercussions of making mistakes in silicon design have virtually no impact when compared to what happens when your drug is found to cause a serious side effect in even a minuscule fraction of the people who take it. It really is an apples/oranges comparison. The industries have basically nothing in common.

Re:Breakthroughs? (5, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247095)

Actually, Intel doesn't have to deal with artificial rights activists protesting outside their labs to free the poor microchips they're experimenting on, nor do they have to jump through HUGE FDA hoops when they're ready to scale up to live environment testing of their advances. The folks at Intel have the luxury of playing a lot faster and looser than medical researchers, because a failed attempt at increasing clock speed by 5% usually doesn't kill a living being.

- G

Re:Breakthroughs? (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247123)

Actually, Intel doesn't have to deal with artificial rights activists protesting outside their labs to free the poor microchips they're experimenting on, nor do they have to jump through HUGE FDA hoops when they're ready to scale up to live environment testing of their advances. The folks at Intel have the luxury of playing a lot faster and looser than medical researchers, because a failed attempt at increasing clock speed by 5% usually doesn't kill a living being.

I agree with you 100.000000000137468%

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247215)

because a failed attempt at increasing clock speed by 5% usually doesn't kill a living being

Not yet. But when they get into organic processing...

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247133)

The only reason Intel has had any motivation to come up with any real breakthroughs in the last 20 years is AMD eating their lunch with the Opetron. All they had in 2003 was the Itanium and we all know how big of a turd that was.

Innovation on CPUs doesn't necessarily have to consist of obvious "breakthroughs". CPU performance has increased exponentially over those last 20 years due to incremental, evolutionary improvements. Opteron wasn't exactly a "breakthrough" either: it just extended Intel's long-in-the-tooth instruction set to 64-bits, providing backwards compatibility to 32-bit applications. Its success wasn't because of any huge breakthrough, but because that's what customers were demanding; customers didn't want the Itanium and its unproven performance which required huge changes in compilers and how software was written.

However, regardless of how Andy's company has performed, this has no bearing on his arguments about the medical industry. This is basic logic here. Even if a reincarnated Hitler came back and told us that it's important we do more space exploration, the fact that the person making the claim is generally reviled has no bearing on the factuality or effectiveness of his arguments.

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247273)

Even if a reincarnated Hitler came back and told us that it's important we do more space exploration, the fact that the person making the claim is generally reviled has no bearing on the factuality or effectiveness of his arguments.

You fulfilled Godwin's law [wikipedia.org] . And the total discussion is only 41 comments long at this point in time.

Re:Breakthroughs? (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247339)

So what? Why should I give two shits about Godwin's Law? If you have something of substance to add to the discussion, go ahead and say it; otherwise, shut up.

Re:Breakthroughs? (1)

tx_derf (1060278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247369)

Innovation on CPUs doesn't necessarily have to consist of obvious "breakthroughs". CPU performance has increased exponentially over those last 20 years due to incremental, evolutionary improvements. Opteron wasn't exactly a "breakthrough" either: it just extended Intel's long-in-the-tooth instruction set to 64-bits, providing backwards compatibility to 32-bit applications. Its success wasn't because of any huge breakthrough, but because that's what customers were demanding; customers didn't want the Itanium and its unproven performance which required huge changes in compilers and how software was written.
I agree. Even with the competition AMD offered, we still haven't seen much in the way of any real "breakthrough" in desktop CPU design. The design of modern x86 chips is certainly much more complex what with the predictive branching, out-of-order execution, etc. But really, how is that any kind of a "breakthrough"? It's not much more than piling on more transistors to make better use of a design that's been around for decades. At their core (pun intended) the modern x86 chips don't qualify as any kind of "breakthrough". The only thing competition did for desktop PCs is to save us from the Itanium and make the chips run faster and cooler than they did before.

I'm so happy he's ready to change the world again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21246981)

But first sir, please allocate 1B of your funds to a new institute designed solely to advance medicine. Please arrange for it to also circumvent the FDA rules and allow patients to undergo clinical trials offshore at no expense. And finally, please continue funding for the next 5 years such that actual progress can occur.

Thank you again

FOAD

Andy misses a couple of things (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246983)

1. Pharma companies need to make a profit. If they are making a profit doing what they are, they have met that goal.

2. Human body isn't made of silicon.

Re:Andy misses a couple of things (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247069)

2. Human body isn't made of silicon.

Aye, there's the rub. You simply cannot use semiconductor research as an analogy for medical research. While we know quite a bit about human (and other organism) biology, the amount we don't know is simply staggering.

This is just a rant by someone who was successful in one field thinking he can just take those lessons and transfer them to an entirely different field. He's also worrying about getting old, dying and all of those other misfortunes of mortal man.

Re:Andy misses a couple of things (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247359)

Aye, there's the rub. You simply cannot use semiconductor research as an analogy for medical research. While we know quite a bit about human (and other organism) biology, the amount we don't know is simply staggering.

Yeah but if my lungs fail why can't I live on an artificial lung? If my heart fails why can't I live on an artificial heart? Equipment like this exists in one form or another but it is not manufactured in a way which makes it cost effective to deploy on a large scale, and is not mature enough to be considered reliable.

If we had better connections between engineering and medical science we could all live a lot longer.

Re:Andy misses a couple of things (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247489)

In response to 1., why? Why must the government support for-profit companies with grants? Shouldn't they only support non-profit entities? Companies can be non-profit and still pay their employees (aka, our citizens) nice salaries. The share holders should be the population in general and the employees, not some big wig sitting on a 70th floor window office in New York City.

And if pharmaceutical companies always remain profitable, why do they receive grants? To me, it would make more sense if a company receives a grant, the US taxpayers own a portion of anything derived from that grant, with any earned money being directly re-invested in health care in the form of new grants, new hospitals, new insurance options, etc, thus lowering the tax burden from the rest of the system. It could go a long way to making the health care industry/grant system self-sufficient while creating more research, and thus increasing the demand for highly educated, highly paid citizens.

If Intel did medical research... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21246987)

I feel a car analogy coming on...

More fun with analogies (1)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247159)

Perhaps the following metaphor is not the most effective, when discussing the field of medicine:

We need to give wild ducks the opportunity to emerge and quack their way to success.

Re:If Intel did medical research... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247219)

I feel a car analogy coming on...

In Soviet Russian YOU feel run-down and tyred!


Fair enough... (1)

freelunch (258011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246993)

Let's talk about the failure of Itanic.

Re:Fair enough... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247055)

Let's talk about the failure of Itanic

What? Like his Itanium is a flop, after years of investment, development and stealing from DEC's Alpha, so draw attention away from it by pointing at someone else who hasn't been so hot lately? Such school-yard tactics ... how sad.

Re:Fair enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247497)

Itanic sunk cause an iceberg but was not intel fault.

Apples with oranges (3, Insightful)

Dinjay (571355) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246995)

I don't think that the IT industry has the regulatory pressures that the medical industry has, so he isn't comparing like with like.

That's A Big "No Shit" (3, Insightful)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247079)

Hey there! I'm in an unrelated field and I don't know how to do your job, but here's a few changes I'd like to see anyway....

So Mr. Grove, let's consider all the faulty products you shipped in just one year of your career at Intel--and now let's imagine every single customer that bought one of those products suing your company for a half-million dollars each, and winning....
~

Re:Apples with oranges (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247107)

Seriously. If that Intel floating point bug was instead a medicine, well, ask Merck how that whole Vioxx thing blew over...

It's not like Merck or GlaxoSmithKline could refab a molecule and offer an exchange. When you take into account the FDA and lawsuits hanging over their heads like Swords of Damocles, it's *almost* a wonder how they still manage to stay in business.

(Almost, until you find they're able to shuffle trivial patents for known good medicine in and push those off to customers...but that's a rant for a whole nother topic.)

Not without merit (5, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247137)

His argument is not without merit though. There is no financial interest in developing new drugs when old drugs are still protected under obscenely long lasting patents. And researchers are, as researchers are. I highly doubt many of the silicon engineers are eagerly awaiting news of how Timmy used their latest creation to do his high school term paper on. Like whys, most researchers are likely more interested in continuing their research than the 5-20 year battle what ever their last findings will go through before becoming a commercial grade product.

All of that could be put aside though, save for one major factor. There is a HUGE amount of money in the pharmaceutical world. And the sad fact is, more of that money goes to crap like Viagra commercials during the Super Bowl than to the research and development of new drugs and treatments.

I'm not saying everyone in the industry is a greedy whore, heck, I've met and worked with some really great people who are in it for the cures. But the privatization of research, the excessive burden of patents, and the big-business/lobbyist friendly approach of our government over the last 2+ decades have lead to a slowing of development and a maximization of profits.

-Rick

Re:Apples with oranges (3, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247169)

I work for a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing firm. I can tell you definitively that regulations have three major effects on pharmaceutical companies as opposed to those that don't have to follow them (i.e. herbal remedy companies):

1) Increased cost of development

2) Slower time to market

3) Increased cost of production

None of those prevent discoveries. They do raise the financial entry barriers for startups, however.

Re:Apples with oranges (3, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247269)

Alright, then let's compare like with like!

If pharma advanced like processors:

-Time for a cold/allergy medicines to kick in would halve every 18 months.
-Medicines would be cheap, but you'd have to buy them in five-year supplies at a time.
-No one would be able to figure out what Mac molecules look like.
-Pill would do anything you wanted, except for the 50% of the time that you vomit them.

And if computers had to follow pharma regs:

-Chipmakers would have to run extensive tests to ensure they were Turing complete.
-Chips would be pulled off the market if they ran into any unpredicted infinite loops.
-Every computer would come with a book full of warnings including such gems as "Not intended for use underwater."
-Computer commercials would occasionally just mention the product in a positive light with no real information about functionality. (Oh wait, they already do that ...)

Basic Research (5, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247001)

researchers who are content with getting NIH grants and publishing research papers with little regard to whether their work leads to something that can alleviate disease, to change their ways.

And that's the way it ought to be. Not all things need immediate applications. Many of the most impressive inventions of our time have been a fusion of research that seemingly have few worthwhile applications. Expanding the sum of human knowledge is never a waste of time.

Re:Basic Research (3, Insightful)

sofar (317980) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247225)

You think that it's good that medical/pharmaceutical companies have increased their revenues year past year without any significant increases in reduction of the major diseases over time?

I'd say that the medical industry has been feeding on the community for way too long. Medical procedures are insanely expensive and the equipment and medicine costs are through the roof. But it's not like medicine got any better in the last 30 years, only the scale has been slowly tipping in our health's favour, but it should have swung completely over already.

The medical industry has consumed more input than it has given back for a very long time. It's time we start seeing some payback to *everyone* who put money in the system: the consumers of medical care.

You're completely forgetting that this is "medicine" we're talking about here, and not "biology". One was to observe nature, the other one for curing people.

Re:Basic Research (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247349)

You're completely forgetting that this is "medicine" we're talking about here, and not "biology". One was to observe nature, the other one for curing people.

They go hand in hand. Do you think they were trying to invent some miracle cure for some disease when they stumbled upon the structure of the DNA? Better understanding of our biology will eventually lead to better technologies and medicines. I'm not talking about pharma companies, I'm talking more about the guy's notion that research that has no immediate application is somehow a waste of time.

Re:Basic Research (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247513)

You think that it's good that medical/pharmaceutical companies have increased their revenues year past year without any significant increases in reduction of the major diseases over time?

You say that as if there was some way to a) measure progress against 'major diseases' and in some meaningful way and b) as if progress were guaranteed if only (the mostly mythical) big pharma would just do it.
 
 

I'd say that the medical industry has been feeding on the community for way too long. Medical procedures are insanely expensive and the equipment and medicine costs are through the roof. But it's not like medicine got any better in the last 30 years, only the scale has been slowly tipping in our health's favour, but it should have swung completely over already.

The medical industry has consumed more input than it has given back for a very long time. It's time we start seeing some payback to *everyone* who put money in the system: the consumers of medical care.

Again with the assumptions that are based in bias and/or some fantasy world - not reality.

Liability... (5, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247003)

From the article
The fundamental tenet that drives us all in the semiconductor industry is a deeply felt conviction that what matters is time to market, or time to money. But you never hear an executive from a pharmaceutical company say, "Before the end of the year I'm going to have xyz drug," the way Steve Jobs said the iPhone would be out on schedule. The heart of every high-tech executive has been, get the product into customers' hands and ramp up production. That drive is just not present in pharma; the drive to get sufficient understanding and go for it is missing.

Let me tell you, if Intel had to pay $5,000,000 to the widow of everyone killed by an FDIV bug who would have died 3 weeks later (eg, like a drug company has to do), they would be a lot more conservative about getting chips to market.

Re:Liability... (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247111)

Exactly. That comment of his is either seriously ignorant, or genuinely exasperated. Either way, it's way off the mark. Just the fact that he's comparing getting a consumer product to market with getting a drug to market shows that he shouldn't be taken seriously. Not only are the stakes higher, but the processes are totally different.

Re:Liability... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247143)

"Before the end of the year I'm going to have xyz drug," the way Steve Jobs said the iPhone would be out on schedule.

Heh, I bet the FDA would have something to say about that...and it wouldn't be repeatable in polite company.

Re:Liability... (1)

sofar (317980) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247299)

Nonsense, these medical companies don't pay *any* damages nowadays, almost everything comes right from your own pocket through the overhead that they charge on the medicine and equipment that *you* paid for with your health insurance.

What an ass (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247005)

Biomedical is a cross between fundamental research, medical research and pharma. The fundamental researchers stumble across things that move through the pipe to pharma. Without them and their "content in writing grants to the NIH", many breakthrough drugs would not exist.

Medical Records (1)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247009)

The medical establishment fears change in some ways. We still don't have computerized medical records in the US. If you become incapacitated away from home it's very likely no one will have any idea what medical conditions you may have or what you're allergic to.

Re:Medical Records (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247105)

The medical establishment fears change in some ways. We still don't have computerized medical records in the US.
Citation needed. Long before "Vista" was the name of the Windows version formerly known as Longhorn, VistA [wikipedia.org] was a free software electronic medical record system used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Or is your complaint that the private hospitals have dragged on adopting free software?

Re:Medical Records (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247315)

Long before "Vista" was the name of the Windows version formerly known as Longhorn

Sorry to nitpick, but Vista isn't longhorn. Longhorn cratered. Vista is a 1.5 year rush-job face-saving measure.

-jcr

Re:Medical Records (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247127)

Just what makes you think that lack of computerized medical records is due to fear? How about:

Lack of a standard record format?

Lack of standard definitions?

Lack of time and money? Lots of medical systems (think doctor's offices and small, rural hospitals) aren't exactly rolling in excess cash or excess time.

And if you're so very worried about being incapacitated away from home, you can do wonders with a copy of your records in a manila folder. Low tech. Functional. Or even a typed summary stuck in your wallet.

Re: Change, Rational and Otherwise (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247393)

This has been pointed out by numerous commentators in the past:
medical regulatory bodies generally tend to reject new technology, even if individual patients are willing to accept the risks.

The usual logic for this is that if the regulating agency approves anything new that leads to the death of people, the regulatory agency gets blamed well for that--but if they refuse to approve a new medicine for use, nobody knows the true cost of doing that--how many people it would have saved. So from a practical standpoint, it's safer for them not to approve anything new.
~

Break the news to you, Bucky (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247399)

We still don't have computerized medical records in the US. If you become incapacitated away from home it's very likely no one will have any idea what medical conditions you may have or what you're allergic to.
Unless you wear a medic-alert bracelet, which anyone with half a brain will do anyway. Besides being less prone to failure, they also don't require publishing your health history for anyone who feels like it to look up. Before you reply that they can be locked, remember that you're incapacitated -- so who has the key again?

Next up... Car industry. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247015)

Former Intel CEO rips automotive industry for not doubling fuel efficiency and halving cost every 18 months.

I'll bite (1)

tygt (792974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247301)

Next up ... farming industry.

Former Intel CEO rips farming industry (agrobiz) for not doubling crop production and havling cost every 18 months.
.
.
.
.
Nope, you can't generalize from one industry to another as simply as that, can you?

Re:Next up... Car industry. (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247451)

I know your joking but until the recent eco drive most cars had poor MPG. American cars lag hugely when compared the the european market. Here we have lots of small town driving cars which unleaded will do 50MPG, my Dad's just bought a Toyota Yaris which does an average of 66MPG. We also have things like the land rover defender which may only do 25-30MPG but can actually go off-road, up mountains and everything else (they also fit about 8 people in them if your squueze.) The technology in American cars does tend to lag, the Ford GT is only as cool as it is because very little technology in it is American. For a rather biased but amusing program watch Jeremy Clarkson's The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and you'll see what I mean.

I have to ask whats the deal with Harleys as well, the weekend just gone I had the distinct displeasure of driving one. The rumours of having the turning circle of a brick, no acceleration and an amazing top speed of 60 MPH the same as my 100mpg 200cc motorcycle. That Harley emboded everything I hate about Cars, then again I might be biased since I bought a Suzuki GSR 600 that day (light, handled brilliantly, did reasonable MPG, good in town traffic and will still do more than 100MPH if you want it to.)

Perhaps american car manufactures do need to start doubling fuel efficency every year if they best they can do is a Humvee

Re:Next up... Car industry. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247501)

Perhaps american car manufactures do need to start doubling fuel efficency every year if they best they can do is a Humvee

 
actually, the hummer is the extreme of what's wrong with suvs. but i guess your head is too far up your ass being a nationalist prick to see that.
 
oh well, another faggot from across the pond who doesn't know shit about american cars... imagine that.

tech innovation? (4, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247017)

I can hardly imagine what the medical profession would be like had it been subjected to the so-called progress and innovation we've been cursed with in the tech industry in the past couple of decades, but the possibilities are horrifying. Microsoft Doctor? Intel Inside? Intestinal Exploder? "rights management" for your medications? Nursing outsourced to call centers? No thanks, Andy.

Re:tech innovation? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247185)

Why is that horrifying ? Mass production of medical care would mean that everyone would get access to it.
You can still get the equivalent of supercomputer today with your custom software that was available couple of decades before. But most people, except few big business cannot afford it.

It will be the same way. In the future you will have a magic gizmo that can take a look inside your body and synthesize a drug for your needs and it would mean that you have access to technology that is now possessed only by big pharma.

Re:tech innovation? (2, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247293)

n the future you will have a magic gizmo that can take a look inside your body and synthesize a drug for your needs and it would mean that you have access to technology that is now possessed only by big pharma.
As long as your magic gizmo can check in with the license server every time it needs to dispense a drug, and doesn't get accidentally marked as an illegal pirated copy of the gizmo and shut down. On top of that, better hope that the gizmo's makers don't force a patch update on it that causes it to go crazy and produce 10 times the dosage you need, plus another drug that supposed to be good for you but actually makes your heartrate climb towards 200bpm.

Re:tech innovation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247429)

Yes, the x86 hardware and OS has flaws.
But my basic point is that commoditization of the computers (x86) is a good thing. Without it only big business will be having computers and you would not have one to post here.

Similarly commoditization of medicine is also a good thing. Of course since it is a different domain, there will be different problems. You talking the example litrely is quite silly. But people here will definitely agree with you as you have made reference to MS and DRM.

Re:tech innovation? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247321)

See Stargate SG1 Season 6 Episode 16 Metamorphosis

Nirti is conducting experiments on a group of locals ....

Unlike chip makers (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247021)

Unlike chip makers, pharmaceutical companies need a national government's approval to market their product. How quickly would Intel and AMD have been able to step up the capabilities of their processors if some Digital Restrictions Ministry or some other government agency had to approve every stepping?

Yeah. (1)

Eevee1 (1147279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247023)

Why should we care about dumb things like curing cancer when we can make faster processors for computers with less sand?!

No so easy (3, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247025)

First, given the current regulation scheme (the FDA in the US, for example) the distance between a fundamental discovery and an actual drug on the market is much greater in medicine than it is in technology -- Intel does not require approval from anyone to market their next-gen processor. Second, the current patent system makes making trivial improvements on existing drugs (hence extending monopoly protection) much more profitable than researching new drugs (high risk of failing to produce anything).

But even ignoring all these things, on a fundamental level biology is orders of magnitude more difficult than physics. We understand the physics of seminconductors and the mathematics of computation fairly well. We can simulate future processors ahead of time to see if a new cache design will improve performance or not. We have no idea how to simulate a biological system, and barely have quantitative models for event the simplest ones. Let's give it 100 years and try again.

Re:No so easy (2, Interesting)

Oink (33510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247097)

The way we physicists refer to this situation, is by saying that biology is truly in its infancy, in that there's no real such thing yet like 'mathematical biology.' Really, one could argue there's not even a field of theoretical biology. Everything is empirical. We can't predict squat.

Re:No so easy (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247327)

in that there's no real such thing yet like 'mathematical biology.'

We're getting there. [nih.gov]

Yo! My ego and bank account too big to die (1)

hirschma (187820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247029)

In other words, please start inventing faster because I don't want to die a trembling mess.

In all seriousness, I hope that he gets them moving, and that such cures are not only for folks with Groves' wallet.

Translation: "I'm elderly and scared of death" (5, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247039)

Well Andy, Maybe the human body is just many many times more complex than a calculator.

Re:Translation: "I'm elderly and scared of death" (2, Insightful)

djtack (545324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247417)

Yes, what has been discovered about biology and medicine in the last 50 years is staggering. Saying there's no progress because we can't cure Mr. Grove's Parkinson's is like saying there has been no progress in the semiconductor world because Intel can't sell me a gallium arsenide CPU, or a diamond substrate CPU... we're still stuck with crappy old silicon, after 50 years!

This just in - WATER IS WET (5, Insightful)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247043)

And it's news that the Pharms would prefer to treat the symptoms rather than cure a disease? There's no money in cures. But keeping people buying pills to treat symptoms - or better yet - reclassifying symptoms as new diseases. Now you're talkin' the shareholder's language baby!

Otherwise it's all just an order for another box of a half-dozen duh's. To go.

It's not like computers (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247051)

We don't understand the human body. We don't know how some drugs even work. It isn't like a computer that we built from scratch ourselves. Two people of exactly the same body mass and type will react differently to the same drug, and we usually don't know why. We haven't mapped the genome, and when we finish mapping it, we won't understand it. We don't know why aging happens. We don't know what causes many diseases. We don't know where viruses came from or how to stop them.

Medical science is mostly things we don't know, so we stick to the few we do and research the heck out of them. Also, Big Pharma aren't interested in cures. Cures hurt profits. They research treatments, not cures. That's what I'd hope is the main point of a rant against Big Pharma. They are paid to keep people sick, but mask the symptoms, not to actually make them well.

Mod DOWN! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247071)

Attention to the moderators: Be on the lookout for poor little Stevie [slashdot.org] who may be trying to fill the discussion boards with his conspiracy theory paranoid bullshit. He needs to be sent a message. He needs to be taught a lesson. It needs to be made perfectly clear to him that he needs to KILL HIMSELF.

Look at his comment history. Look at the last two or three months worth of comments. We've had him pinned down at Terrible karma, posting less than twice a day, and have hardly missed a beat following up everything he says with bullshit, taunts, jeers, insults, and assertions of idiocy. There's nothing he can do about it.

ISN'T IT SO FUNNY? ISN'T IT HILARIOUS?

KILL YOURSELF Stevie [slashdot.org] ! There's nothing left for you. Wherever you go, whatever you do, even if you do get a job, we will be there to shit on it. We will be there to take everything away from you. We will call your work, we will pretend to be hiring managers, we will pretend to be your parole officer, we will pretend to be your counselor, we will pretend to be your fucking mother... and we will always plant that little seed: that you're a pedophile, that you're a crazed anarchist, that you have an attitude problem, that you think the world owes you something. It doesn't matter if you run across the planet. The network is worldwide. We will find you.

And we will continue to shit on everything you do for the rest of your life!

Now do us all a favor and KILL YOURSELF.

Interesting. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247083)

Sorry but I don't feel that Intel has a huge record of innovation.
Intel is making X86 cpus. They are very fast but they are still X86 CPUS. The still work on data in the same way as the 386 did but much faster. MMX and SSE? they are tacked on DSP instructions. What Intel and the other IC companies have done is just evolve basic digital logic circuits. They still use gates and work in binary. Take a look at things like the survival rate of cancer over the last 20 years and the survival rate for premature births and I think will see some major increases.
Also when Intel makes a chip that doesn't work correctly hundreds of people usually don't die. If your MP3 player or PC locks up you just reboot it. If the drug you are taking locks up your Liver then bad things happen.
In other words he really doesn't have a clue to what he is talking about.

Funny that he should say that... (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247093)

How would you like medicines that make you overheat and go up in smoke if you don't wear proper water cooling? Psychiatric medications that make you repeat the Pentium FDIV bug when balancing your checkbook? A defect rate that sends 10% of people from hospital right into garbage can and forces many more to be retested for lower brain clock frequency?

True, things that have to work change much slower than our entertainment equipment and office accessories. Cars, airplanes and medicines take a looong time to develop and test for safety. But there is a damn good reason for that.

On the other hand, I believe informed adults should be able to do whatever case modding and overclocking they want to do on themselves. The rest of us will watch and see how it affects their clock frequency and mean time to failure.

Lack of progress?! (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247101)

Don't knock it, mate. That Viagra is great stuff. Could be one of the defining inventions of our time. Seriously, think about the number of marriages that have hit the rocks because the girl (usually younger) can't get all of her needs satisfied anymore. One drug has made that a thing of the past.

My standard anti-corporate response. (2)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247145)

If someone actually cured the diseases, they wouldn't be making billions selling drugs for them.

Re:My standard anti-corporate response. (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247367)

If someone actually wrote software that works, they wouldn't make billions selling consulting and support hours to install/troubleshoot/upgrade/recover/configure/patch the problems.

Fixed for you.

Put down the flamethrowers for just a femtosecond (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247155)

OK, so Grove compares apples and oranges, and the liabilities involved with testing medical "studd" are way higher than with microprocessors and other tech stuff... all that and more... but I, in my hart of hearts, feel he has a point. I often wonder what, really, does modern medicine manage to really solve? Diabetes? Nope. Cancer? Nope. Arthrytis? Nope. Ostheoporosis? No. MS? No. etc. (keep that flamethrower down, damn!) I volunteer helping blind people, and just happen to know many eye diseases that are uncurable.

It's a bit depressing, considering it's one of the oldest sciences.

Maybe (0, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247163)

Maybe Intel and others of the "tech juggernaut" would be singing a different tune if they had to:

1. Get government approval before selling anything. This approval only comes after spending hundreds of millions to billions to open a new fabrication plant and start cranking out brand new designs of chips.

2. Had Hillary and other politicians running around talking about the "unconscionable profits of Intel", and how the government should nationalize Intel and other high tech corporations "for the common good." Or nationalize in all but name only, with the government deciding how much profit Intel should be "permitted" to make, so computers don't cost so much to people (which is ridiculous, but if people believe that about drugs and medicine, why not bleeding edge electronics?)

Just a thought (0, Redundant)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247167)

There's far more monetary incentive to treat a disease than to cure it.

Biomedical research has one big hindrance... (1)

Kalendraf (830012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247175)

...lawsuits.

Other technology innovation is comparitively quick and easy, because most of their products don't directly affect the human body. At worst, a failed design of a piece of technology may lead to a recall.

Biomedical products directly impact human lives, and even the smallest problem may end up causing harmful effects only realized several years down the road. The threat of potential lawsuits lead biomedical companies to undergo significantly more testing than most other technologies require. A new biomedical product may need many years of testing to be ultimately deemed safe.

If you want them to speed up that design process, then we as consumers would need to be more willing to accept risk, and that is something that the general public is definitely not willing to do. The moment anyone feels wronged in even the least way, they'll contact a lawyer and sue.

Intel vs a DNA-based computer (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247183)

Had his opinion been a comment he'd be rightfully modded -1 troll or something to that effect because there is no -1 factually inccorect mod. He assumes that medical science is anything at all comparable to computer science as far as progress. Even if it was, he seems pretty ignorant of how far medical science is advancing. When it was first possible to record the entirety of a genome we were limited to a few hundred or less base pairs a day. Now we can decode over a hundred million per day. I would call that one heck of an improvement. We can figure out the structure of proteins and enzymes a lot faster and more accurately than in the past and are making decent progress modeling and designing new proteins. We now have the capability to encode for numerous artificial amino acids and aree working on developing artificial lifeforms using more than the 4 standard nucleotide bases. DNA-based computers are on the drawing board and simple prototypes have been built. The predicted storage capacity of these kind of systems is TRILLIONS of times what Intel could dream of making. Time to catch up Intel.

Talking about things you don't know about (2)

Sans_A_Cause (446229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247187)

"...he challenges big pharma companies, many of which haven't had an important new compound approved in ages, and academic researchers who are content with getting NIH grants and publishing research papers with little regard to whether their work leads to something that can alleviate disease, to change their ways."

What absolute horseshit. Has he _been_ to a meeting on, say, cancer research recently? I have. And I'll tell you that the vast majority of Big Pharma and academic researchers with NIH grants are working their asses off to develop the Next Big Drug. Not only are there public health reasons involved, but also big financial reasons as well. I've seen amazing things thrown at problems: room-sized robots screening chemical libraries, natural product extractions from flora and fauna harvested by divers from the sea floor, massive computer time and effort thrown into drug design, data mining of the literature of known compounds and their interaction partners, ultra-precise radiation delivery systems involving whole-body imaging...in other words, _huge_ technological efforts costing millions--nay, billions of dollars to develop treatments for cancer.

And you know what the net result is? We're still using drugs and techniques mostly discovered in the '60's to the '70's. Why? Because despite all of these efforts, we haven't found anything that works better. And that's the important thing. It has to work better. Not as good as. Better. Nothing much does.

There's luck involved. Things like Viagra come along not because we _designed_ it to be an ED drug (in fact, it was originally a treatment for high blood pressure), but because it was _discovered_ to be an ED treatment. You can say "I'm going to have a drug to treat prostate cancer by the next Apple Developers Conference" all you want, but it ain't gonna happen unless you get amazingly lucky.

Pharma is not the semiconductor industry because people are not machines.

Take that, Big Medicine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247191)

You jerks! You're nowhere near as awesome as the tech industry!

What? You can't just rip a human body apart and see how it works? If a person "blue screens" or has a "floating point error" they're dead?

Whoops. forget it, then...

lol (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247199)

No innovations in the past 50 years?! Christ on a cracker! We have Viagra, birth control and even pills that help curb obesity! We had none of those drugs to help the problems that these drugs treat 50 years ago! Nuff said...

Intel should look into lasers for curing diseases (1)

noddyxoi (1001532) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247207)

Just look at this article at wired [wired.com] where they claim that using lasers is possible to destroy virus using their own resonant frequency. Btw asking the medical industry to innovate is like asking Microsoft to innovate... if they really do what will they sell next ? Google or some other really caring company has to step in to solve this problem for humanity. Big companies have the chance to change everything for the best and yet all they can think of is the profit... No wonder the other species in the universe want to stay anonymous.

teensy difference between hardware and wetware... (1)

frankie (91710) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247211)

With computer research (either hardware or software), going from idea to demo to production sample is a fairly straightforward investment of money and labor hours. If it works, it works, and if not, you try again. No harm done.

With medical research (either equipment or chemicals), every one of those steps is harder:

  1. the system you are trying to work on has millions of years of obfuscated kludges and minimal documentation, so coming up with good ideas in the first place is hard
  2. once you have a demo of your new wonderdrug (or whatever), you need to do multiple rounds of testing on animals. I doubt that Fert and Grunberg had to fill out reams of humane treatment paperwork while experimenting on GMR.
  3. assuming your stuff is effective & safe on lab rats, then you get to try it on actual human beings. again multiple consecutive rounds (safety, efficacy, dosing) with even more paperwork than before. Depending on what you're trying to treat, each round can take years.
  4. And of course, the cost of screwing up is a bit higher than wasting a couple square feet of silicon at a fab.

Bravo, Mr. Upgrove (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247213)

Right now software and technology companies have to compete with Biotech for investment dollars so this should really matter to /. Andy is right that the current players in pharma aren't really creating much new and are simply patenting tiny (and obvious) baby steps. One thing Andy isn't pointing out is what every terrible corporate disease movie will tell you: it isn't in biotech's financial interest to find true cures. Symptomatic treatments can be sold thousands of times instead of the one time a cure is sold.

The key to progress is less accountability (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247227)

As a post-doc in the biological sciences, here's my two cents:

First, the reason certain diseases haven't been cured while computer chips have gotten smaller and faster is that curing the diseases is a much harder problem.

I do, however, have opinions about how to improve the pace of scientific research. In my view, the key to improving the pace of scientific research is to reduce accountability. What I mean by that is to adopt an open source model where people join projects because they believe in the project rather than because that's what pays the bills.

What needs to happen is that rather than getting assigned to a particular grant, researchers are given a basic package of funding and then they are free to attach themselves to the most promising projects. As it is, the system is so rigid that the successful projects are unable to grow and the unsuccessful projects linger long past the point where it is clear that they have failed.

I totally agree! (2)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247231)

Considering the fat that the average pharmaceutical company invests 20% of their earnings into R&D (and mot of them don't even research new things) compared to the 50% that go into advertising campaigns/bribing doctors one should really wonder if there might be some misunderstanding here.

Besides, pharmaceuticals are the biggest patent trolls known to man. Just change two functional groups of an already known (and cheap) drug that already proved to be anti-cancerous and starting to market it as a new cancer drug nets Roche a hundred times more money per pill than the old generic one.

Let me guess... (1)

r3b00tm0nk3y (806499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247243)

Paul Graham and Mark Cuban were busy?

patents (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247255)

It is worth noting that intel doesn't make use of patents while biotech heavily relies on them. So much for "patents are needed to push r&d".

Rich and wise aren't always the same. (5, Interesting)

TheMohel (143568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247257)

He's a rich man who is getting sick and old, and he's mad because it has turned out to be hard to find out how to stop people from getting sick and old. He's upset, and I understand that, but he also missed most of the points that might be out there to get.

No question that medicine is a different culture than engineering. I've spent a lot of time in both, and I know. I also know that medicine is NOT particularly creative, and you don't really want it to be. You want your illness to be routine and fixable, and being routine means that nobody has to sweat particularly hard to figure it out. The sweat, and there's plenty, has to be done in research and development, and the difference in development effort between a new therapy for a disease and a new electronic entertainment device is remarkable.

He talks about how the two cultures deal with failure. In engineering, particularly in microelectronics, failure means that you spend money, time, and energy fixing something you broke. In medicine, failure means that you kill somebody. This used to happen a lot, and the modern biomedical research culture is highly biased against failure. It's not OK to die in a study any more, even if the condition we're studying is in and of itself fatal. Changing this would speed up the process of research, but who's volunteering to die for the cause? (And no, offshoring it is NOT the answer - foreign governments are wising up to this quickly, as are domestic ethics consultants.)

He derides modern statistical techniques, misunderstanding the difference between statistical failure and subgroup averaging, and he flatters himself a prophet when he recommends something that pharmaceutical researchers have been doing for thirty years: analyzing failure to see if you can find partial success somewhere.

He writes off in a sentence or two the hardest problem of all, which is figuring out what in the heck is really going on (preparatory to changing it). In engineering, the complexity is finite and human-directed, and the systems are designed with severable components to make the process of debugging and analysis easier. In medicine, the complexity is engineered by a billion years of evolution, not all of it productive or even useful, and very poorly understood. In an organism such as people, where 50,000 poorly-understood genes interact with factorial complexity, just figuring out which end to push on can be maddening. It's the reason that peer review was invented: if you're up a creek with a paddle-less enzyme, there are probably only a few hundred people in the world who can tell whether you're a genius or just confused. Peer review at its best is just like open source. At it's worst it's a lot like open source at it's worst, but the less said of that the better.

I would love to see more acceptance of modern information techniques and more flexibility in medical research. I would love to see better use of rapid prototyping and model systems, and we're heading that way. We've actually come a huge way in medicine just in the last decades, and the pace is accelerating. TFA is just a measure of the fact that, just like software, sometimes the better the system gets, the more you can see how imperfect it is.

Dilbert still has the answer (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247275)

(misquoting shamelessly from memory)

PHB: I figure that anything I don't understand can't be that hard. "Reengineer our world-wide network topology: 30 minutes."

compare apples to apples, PLEASE? (1)

Topherbyte (747078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247283)

I'd like to see what Intel's rate of advancement would have been if their research involved in vitro or in vivo testing, with risk of death.

He has a point... I guess (1)

MrMunkey (1039894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247289)

I agree that he's not really comparing like to like, but he might have a point. What was the last disease that we cured? When was that? Granted curing a disease is probably a lot harder than designing a new CPU (both of which I have no experience with). With all the stuff we hear about Viagra, Cialis... it's enough to make a person wonder. On a positive note, I have heard some cool things going on, like regrowing tissues and temporary blood cell replacements. I forget the name, but it was on Wired News on PBS last week.

Huh? (1)

jeremiahstanley (473105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247303)

Wait, so the money guy accuses the academics of being to, well, academic?

Film at 11...

Rheumatoid Arthritis and YOUR own affliction? (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247317)

Andy Grove is very correct. Let me know where I can read or listen to his speech.

My perspective is from having rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have RA for five years now. Its always bubbling up so really impacts me. Got fired from my last job due to this.

In the RA arena researchers don't know the cause. Same thing for cancer and a host of other diseases. In a computer system, if you don't know the cause, its hard to fix. One first level drug, methorexate dials down the whole immune system to target RA. Then more recent biologic drugs work pretty well. I have the feeling that I could eat something different, like amino acids, to impact how my epigenetic code is exercised. Research like Andy Grove suggests is the only way to find out the truth here.

God bless you Andy Grove! And God bless the biologic companies too, they do help.
Jim

its the cost to enter the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247323)

basicly it started in the back yard and still and had a very low cost to enter the market, all you needed was a good idea and it could take off quickly.

even now there are hardware companies that spring up and use the free market in semiconductor plants to prduce their chips and make the money to recoup their investment reasoably quickly, the best design wins and the capitalist system is proved right.

medical break throughs take decades of development and testing and many millions in development costs/bribs

i would also bet a chip engineer has a totally different work mentality to a research scientist.

Medical Research Doesn't Scale... (1)

ihop0 (988608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247325)

At least not yet, it doesn't. But there are many aspects of it that are emerging that come closer to approaching the rate of progress you see in the tech industry. The pace of technological advancement in recent decades has been facilitated by Moore's Law. Only recently has the medical community been able begin taking advantage of this. Now there are advancements like imaging/MRI systems doubling the number of "slices" they can scan simultaneously, every so often, use of microchips to detect cancer markers, etc. Andy Kessler wrote a book about this convergence called The End of Medicine: How Silicon Valley (and Naked Mice) Will Reboot Your Doctor. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/17/1623217&from=rss [slashdot.org] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006113029X/andykessler-20 [amazon.com]

Have to Agree (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247347)

Although some will have differing views on this, I agree with him in many ways. Pharmaceutical companies will only make something if they feel that it will make a big profit, and then they simply milk the income. You can't blame them for that, but it doesn't equal progress.

Academic researchers are the worst though. Many people who I have met who have existed in a pure academic world, especially in the medical world, are quite simply, utterly detached from the real world and solutions that have a practical application. I have seen academic, medical research first-hand. It never ceases to astonish me how seemingly intelligent people just cannot work out how to apply their knowledge to what is actually going on in the world. Many medical people seem to think that it is enough that they are just simply there. How many billions have been poured into medical research worldwide? How many major discoveries have we really had over the last few decades? Most academic research groups are there to collect their grants, and to come up with a discovery every now and again when their grant is up or their survival is threatened. Thinking of fund raising for medical research? Think again. It's a bottomless well.

There a limitations in medical research, and you can't quite have a time-to-market slant on things as the computer industry does, but medical research from various groups is relatively stagnant.

50 years ago the computer industry didn't exist (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247371)

which makes it much easier to grab the low hanging fruit. The history of medicine goes back thousands of years and is much more "mature". Any industry accomplishes a lot when it is young, that seems to be the nature of the game. Look at airplanes. There was less than 50 years between the flight at Kitty hawk and testing the first jets. But how much have planes improved in the past 50 years? Not nearly as much because it gets harder and harder to find places to improve. Boeing's all composite design is pretty revolutionary, but it only achieves about a 20% increase in efficiency at best. Same with medicine.

Medicine is also chasing a moving target much more than say microchips are. There are always going to be new challenges in tech, but once a problem is "solved" in the computer world, it tends to stay that way. Compare that to what medical researchers have to deal with. As seen in the news, bacteria and viruses evolve. Malaria is a constantly moving target. Much harder to chase a moving target than a still one.

Feh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247375)

Medical research isn't about curing, its about profit!

The CEO of "Market the Megahertz" Intel should know that.

Of course Moore, "That Nobel Prize should have been shared!", was a whiner, so what do you expect from his buddy.

he gets it backwards (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247405)

There has been enormous progress in medicine: imaging, diagnostics, genetics, drug treatments, surgical techniques, etc. Many medical problems that used to be serious are now treatable, preventable, or manageable. The one thing medical science can't do is extend life much, but that's because people are basically evolved for living around 70 years, and after that, many things go wrong at once.

Intel, however, is a different story. Until Intel came along, there was a wide variety of processor designs, programming languages, runtimes, and a strong interest in parallel computation. By pushing the x86 architecture, Intel has killed off two decades of work in parallel programming, new programming languages, and many other areas.

Grove and Gates should be remembered as the Genghis Khans of the 20th century: uncivilized, destructive, opportunistic hordes that became fabulously rich and powerful by plundering other civilization, and creating little of lasting value.

Just the nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247413)

Biomedical sciences advanced quickly when there was much room for progress (20th century). But when most natural sources of possible cures were analyzed, the gap became visible. It means that we need to find and understand a chemical mechanism which might be effective and then synthetize a complex molecules and structures, and that's very challenging (compared to culturing funghi). Yes, using living organisms (advanced chemical factories) can help medicine to some extent (wonder why vaccines are effective), but doing it in a lab, or worse, factory is much harder. For that reason we are decades away from times when there will be cures widely available for most common diseases (e.g. most common cancer types).
).

Some obvious reasons tech CEOs dont grok med (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247443)

1. Medical research usually takes ten years from basic research discovery to delivery precisely because:
  a. Humans have long lifespans (initial studies are done with worms, mice, and shorter lifespan creatures)
  b. Genomes and pathways don't always map from one creature to a human
  c. Human systems have feedback mechanisms - there is not just one biochemical pathway in play, but many
  d. Side effects differ between individuals (we are not all identical like chips that are fabbed)
  e. Some side effects won't show up for years

2. Risk ratio is different. If I kill a robot, no one cares much. If a kid dies from a medical drug interaction that we failed to test, it will be a big deal.

3. Part of the problem is the broken patent system.

4. Part of the problem is that medical costs for drug trials are high - people cost money, you have to monitor many things over many years, people don't want invasive monitoring and we can't force them to all eat the same thing, get the same exercise, and live exactly the same way like we can do with mice.

5. The real barriers are lack of financing at the base level, and the fact we deal with humans (if we discover a drug cures cancer we frequently stop the people who are on placebo from treatment and give everyone the drug - this is because they're ... human ... and so we care if they live or die).

6. Biomedical stuff is not bitwise. No easy On/Off or 1/2/3/4/5/6 answers. Things are growing and in flux as you measure them and the act of measuring impacts how they behave. The number of cells in a tube alters as they are counted - even with high-speed mechanical counting imaging - is a cell about to split one or two?.

Toys for the sake of toys (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247463)

A while ago Grove was ranting about the bar-code system for blood banks and going on about how they should be replaced with RFIDs. One Intel employee who actually had run a hospital blood bank pointed out that those bar-codes are readable by candlelight. When lives are at stake, you do not introduce unnecessary complications into the system.

FDA Approval (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247495)

Intel doesn't have to spend years and hundreds of millions of dollars getting FDA approval.
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