Medicine: Dr. Automation

The patient sits alone in a sterile-looking cubicle, electrodes taped to his chest and extremities, and hunches over a series of buttons on a metal console. He presses a button. On a viewing screen, up pops a question, such as "Do you suffer from shortness of breath?" The patient thinks he does, so he presses another button marked "Yes." The machine records this, and his yes or no answers to a hundred other questions. From the electrodes, a polygraph ("lie detector") notes which questions pack a heavy emotional charge for him. The machine produces a printed and punched, easy-to-read case history.


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