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In two years observing surgeons in teaching hospitals, social scientist Matthew Beane noticed something troubling: doctors were finishing their residencies licensed to use robots in the operating room, but most were barely trained to do so.
At fault, Beane reported, is how hospitals have introduced machines and artificial intelligence to the workplace — a way that has left a large part of the new generation of doctors lacking crucial surgery skills.
The big picture: Beane's results, though perhaps reflecting the type of growing pains experienced by most major new technologies, are a cautionary tale to companies as they tinker with robots and AI that some experts believe will fundamentally disrupt society.
The background: In surgery, you need four hands — the surgeon's own, plus those of a resident to pull and hold once an incision is made. Even six hands may be required — a second resident. But with DaVinci, the standard operating room robot, surgeons can manage procedures alone with hand and foot controls — and Beane found they typically do, mostly with the objective of efficiency and reducing mistakes.
Benjamin Shestakofsky, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, tells Axios that he found a similar dynamic in software development.
The same thing is happening in low-skill occupations: Over the coming years, robots could take the jobs of tens of thousands of warehouse and other workers. But so far at least, few such workers have been trained as specialists to be teamed with the robots.
Go deeper: In conventional surgery, too, many new surgeons are unready
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
In order to overcome their lack of operating room training and become proficient at robotic surgery, residents had to break the rules. They went rogue, learning on their own how to use DaVinci, risking losing everything, Beane wrote in a paper last year.
They reflect a tiny grouping of outlaw apprentices who, faced with leaving educational or training programs without requisite skills, skirt the rules and find a way to get their practice outside the bounds, says Beane. "They find ways to operate on patients without a supervisory surgeon in the room," Beane said. "The only way to learn was going outside the bounds of propriety."
Companies in every sector are ravenously hiring data scientists, hoping to eke out more sales or improve their efficiency. Pay is good for the average senior data scientist, who makes nearly $140,000 a year and can pick from thousands of openings.
Kaveh writes: But for new entrants, just out of college or a tech bootcamp, the job market is rife with mislabeled job postings and stiff competition.
What's going on: Average wages for data scientists went down 1.4% in February compared to a year earlier, according to a Glassdoor report. There are a few factors behind the slip, according to the report's author, economist Daniel Zhao:
Data from ZipRecruiter, another job site, confirms the gap between junior and senior data scientist positions.
It's lucrative work — if you can get it.
"If you’re a physics Ph.D. who has spent years using advanced machine learning techniques, the data science and artificial intelligence fields are more attractive than ever. As these more experienced and more educated workers pour in, students fresh out of bootcamps, undergrad or even master's programs will have a harder time competing."— Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor economist
Soccer in Vietnam. Photo: In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty
A robot built at the University of Washington can spear a carrot or a tomato, and gingerly lift it up for a person to eat without using their hands.
Kaveh writes: About 1 million American adults need help eating, according to census data. But there's more to feeding somebody than you might think. In experiments, the UW researchers gathered data as volunteers picked up various foods with a fork and fake-fed them to a mannequin.