One spring morning in the year 2025, Joe Smith might be tending the begonias when the computer on his wrist receives a message from the gene chip under his skin. The 78-year-old Smith's colorectal cancer is in remission, but its potential to genetically mutate is monitored by the biochip, which is spotted with thousands of molecular markers that bind to DNA fragments containing colon cancer's many known mutations. When blood carrying such DNA comes into contact with the chip, resultant binding sets off a signal sensed by the computer, which buzzes and glows a warning to its wearer.

At the clinic, Smith's physician injects a functional imaging system directly into a small tumor on Smith's colon. In real time, this micro-machine monitors the biochemical effects of his drugs and his anatomical condition. The doctor then turns to her medicines, which reflect a stratification of colorectal malignancies into numerous distinct cancers,...

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