Health conditions could largely be treated with digital remedies rather than drugs within the next decade, according to Deepak Chopra.
The founder of health company Chopra Global and the Chopra Foundation told The National’s Business Extra podcast that technology is “unstoppable”.
The metaverse, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and deep learning systems offer a potential way to providing health care, he said.
“This is not outrageous; it is happening now,” said Mr Chopra, who has written dozens of books on subjects such as meditation, philosophy and wealth.
“We have the evidence that you can treat a patient with inflammation through a VR session, give them an augmented reality experience … and you can bring down inflammation … you can treat eating disorders, you can actually look at autistic children, their expressions, give them bio-regulation through VR, and the facial expressions change,” he added.
“If we do it right, in five, six years, pharmaceuticals will be optional for a few things … you will have 'digiceuticals', you will have 'electriceuticals' but even more importantly, you will have augmented reality and immersive experiences.
“If you put a person with burns in a VR environment that simulates the Alps or the Himalayas, the burns get better … extreme sensations, pleasure and pain are the same sensation interpreted differently. So, you put the context right, augmented reality, VR, deep learning systems, artificial intelligence, bio-regulation, will change the way we treat people.”
Mr Chopra, a regular visitor to the UAE, will also enter Abu Dhabi’s Web3 ecosystem with his ChopraVerse well-being metaverse platform.
The issue of ensuring equitable access to new technology will be resolved in time, he said, but until then, there are ways to ensure inclusivity.
“In our metaverse strategy, we are definitely going to use the high-level 3D immersive dreamscapes, as we call them with our fictional characters or avatars … but then we are also going to put that same content on websites on iPhones and mobiles. And as technology gets popular, the prices are going to come down. It is inevitable,” he said.
His advice to entrepreneurs is to ask themselves if “there is a need out there that you are fulfilling”?
“My field … is well-being [and] that is very much needed right now. Mental illness, suicide prevention, the [Covid-19] pandemic, all of that, so well-being is a need,” he said.
“Do I have the expertise? I think I do. I have pursued it for 40 years. But the last component is even more important. Are you irreplaceable? And if you are, then those three things work — you fulfil a need, you have the expertise and you are not replaceable.”
Chopra Global provides online content, courses and also retreats aimed at supporting healthier lifestyles. The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit, runs initiatives, including for mental health, and also carries out research on ageing.
Mr Chopra believes good leaders listen and demonstrate emotional intelligence, as well as empathy. These days, when these principles are forgotten, it can go badly wrong in the corporate world, he said.
“They fail … they get greedy … Look what happened with FTX right now … it is a Bernie Madoff story in the crypto world … You fall prey to greed and then you lose your identity, your authenticity or integrity,” Mr Chopra said.
Meanwhile, Mr Chopra defined success as “the progressive realisation of worthy goals” that include creativity and intuition.
“It is the ability to love and have compassion … it is true self esteem, not self image … which is a deeper level of awareness, where there are no limitations. It is a field of infinite possibilities, of creativity, of insight, intuition, imagination and higher consciousness. And if you had that, then success is guaranteed,” he said.
Mr Chopra started his career in traditional medicine and continues to hold a doctor's licence, he said.
“I teach at Mount Sinai University of California, at the medical school. We have a telemedicine practice … I am an active member of The Endocrine Society, the Royal College of Physicians, the American College of Physicians as well, [and] maintain my licence in Massachusetts, New York, Florida and California,” he said.