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January 17, 1959


Author Affiliations

Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D. C.

Chief, Aviation Medicine Branch (Dr. Weinrauch) and Technical Director (Dr. Hetherington), Directorate of Life Sciences, Headquarters Air Research and Development Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

JAMA. 1959;169(3):240-245. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000200038008

Problems hitherto insoluble because of the formidable amount of calculation involved can now be left to machine computers of either the analog or the digital type. Both types are being applied to medical problems. They not only speed up calculations but can also be wired in such a way as to simulate biological regulatory systems and to incorporate any desired hypothetical reaction-pattern to stimuli. The complex interaction of factors affecting blood pressure, respiration, and other functions can be represented in circuitry that stores information, processes it at high speed, and retrieves both the information and the results from storage promptly and accurately. The machine-computer and the human brain differ in the way they handle inexact data: the brain can usually still make a qualitative analysis and arrive at a conclusion, whereas the computer would report only nonsensical results. The examples here given show that every field of medical science and the healing arts is likely to gain if every original worker will be alerted to the possible application of these new tools in his own field of endeavor.