Before the year 2000, people may be able to phone a medical center and tell a computer what ails them. The computer will have the capability of checking blood pressure and other vital signs and determining if the caller needs emergency care, an appointment with a doctor or a take-two-aspirins-and-call-me-in-the-morning diagnosis.
This vision of the computer-aided world of the future was presented at Utah State University's annual Management Information Systems Seminar this week by Arno Penzias, vice president of research for AT&T-Bell Labs.Penzias spoke to nearly 400 information systems specialists attending the College of Business' Partners in Business seminar.
In what he called an uncharacteristically optimistic talk, Penzias spoke about computer technology now available or soon to be available that will mean "significant technological progress."
A co-recipient of a Nobel Prize in physics for research supporting the Big Bang theory on the origin of the universe, Penzias has recently focused his interest on effective use of information technology.
"People are no longer grateful just to have a computer; they now depend on them," he said. "But working on computers is still the most labor-intensive work in our society. This is because there is a worldwide need for systems integration so all computers can fit in with all others. Currently, we are integrating systems by hand."
Penzias said he believes integration will become more widespread over the next decade as new applications of computer technology emerge.
Integration will include connections to patient history and billing information.
"I think integration will mean humans will perform fewer errands for machines," Penzias said.