"This point of view does preclude the obvious though. If this robot can be programmed to reliably perform a vasectomy reversal in less time than a human, then surely it's purpose can be broadened to encompas similar procedures?"
Indeed. Speculating a bit further the joining of various bits of tubing is a pretty key part of any sort of transplant operation or re-attaching any body part that's been snipped off by industrial accident/car crash//annoyed partner.
A system which *reliably* did this faster (hence reducing trauma) and possibly needed fewer large holes in the patient could become quite popular with hospitals and patients.
No doubt the medical establishment has major concerns about the ethics of abdicating responsability for life threatening surgery to a machine. Especially one that could perfom better than a low performing surgeon.
I gather that average merkins still view the medical profession with some awe. From some angles the AMA is also one of the worlds *most* restrictive trade unions.
Bit like the print unions in the UK before the coming of Rupert Murdoch and the move to Fortress Wapping.
Thumbs up for the achievement. I hope it will be the first of many.