This awesome video from New Scientist TV shows a surgical robot with a human operator peeling a grape. This technology greatly augments what human surgeons can do, and also provides a platform for telesurgery.
The New Scientist article Watch a surgical robot peel a grape, says:
Using a specially designed display and teleoperation controls, [the surgeon] is able to see both real and virtual representations of what the robot’s instruments are doing. The robot has four arms, three of which can hold instruments like a scalpel or surgical scissors. The forth arm carries an endoscopic camera with two lenses, which gives him a stereoscopic view of the action.
According to Intuitive Surgical, there are over 1,800 units in use at 1450 hospitals worldwide. They are used in a variety of surgeries, from prostatectomy to heart valve repair. They excel at what is known as “keyhole” surgery – procedures that leave little scarring. While da Vinci-assisted surgery can be minimally invasive, future medical robots could be much smaller, doing their work from inside the body.
The capability of performing remote surgery is a primary indicator of the spread of distributed work. Robots augment our capabilities and take them anywhere we wish. Human skills and judgment are still involved, but taken into new domains.