“Was there really a time when kids could die from strep throat?” This was a question my 12-year-old posed while we were at the International Museum of Surgical Sciences viewing an exhibit on the discovery of antibiotics. She seemed astonished to learn that there was a time when antibiotics did not exist. Even as a physician, I too had to take a moment to appreciate the impact antibiotics has had on medicine and humanity. I then thought to myself, 25 years from now, will my daughter’s children be asking her if there was a time when people died from cancer?
My grandmother, who was born in 1897, never could have imagined radio, telephones, automobiles, airplanes, and answering machines. I always thought if someone were to tell her that one day she could pick up a hand piece, speak into it, and have a real-time conversation with another person halfway around the world, she would have never understood. Nor would she accept the possibility of getting into a 500-ton metal object and fly through the air over an ocean, and in less than 12 hours, be visiting family members. In my mother’s lifetime, she witnessed the development of air conditioning, television, and remote controls. I have already seen the invention and advancement of cell phones, computers, and the internet. And with technology doubling every 18 months, what will the future hold for us, our children, and our profession?
Recently, I had the opportunity to consider that very notion. I was invited to participate in a think tank sponsored by a division of Nestlé, who is committing to establishing the future of educating both doctors and consumers on dermatologic and aesthetic skin health. The project is called SHIELD, and it stands for Skin Health Investigation Education Longevity Development. They have earmarked funds to open multiple SHIELD centers across the continents. The first one to open is in New York in a few months.
These futuristic think pods are certain to be idealized crosses between an Apple Store and an outer-space laboratory. Like nodes, they will be linked electronically and virtually so that free-flowing ideas and resources can incubate in real time. The SHIELD pods will be open to anyone with a brilliant idea on skin health who lacks access to universities or research centers, or for those who want to bypass the hierarchies and hurdles that may exist in such institutions. Groups of individuals from all aspects of life and all fields of arts, humanities, and science will have a chance to meet and interact with each other and brainstorm the future. Great ideas, whether conceived in isolation or within multidisciplinary groups, will be eligible for funding or triage to the most appropriate outlet. For the creative innovator with the next big idea and no place to go with it, the SHIELD centers will serve as an inviting community to cultivate and grow an idea. The premise is bold and exciting and, until now, nothing like it has existed. To think about what medical education and our field will look 60 years from now is awe inspiring.
I recently read an article in Fast Company on the uncovering of postcards from French artists who in the year 1900 painted pictures of what they predicted the future would look like in the year 2000. Most were measurably off from today’s reality, but a few were rather close. So it got me wondering … what will the future have in store for our specialty? In the spirit of free thinking, I thought I would offer up 10 predictions for what Facial Plastic Surgery will look like in the year 2075.
Perhaps like many of the French painters I’ll be off the mark, but maybe some of them will be right on. Either way, it’s fun to consider. These are just a few of my predictions—what would be yours?
The views expressed in opinion pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BeautyMatter.
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