“Giving old people robots to talk to is a dystopian view that is being classified as utopian.”
In the opening scene of the movie “Robot & Frank,” which takes place in the near future, Frank, an elderly man who lives alone, is arguing with his son about going to a medical center for Alzheimer’s treatment when the son interrupts him. “I brought you something,” he says to Frank. Then the son pulls a large, white humanoid robot from the trunk of his car.
Frank watches in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me,” he says as a robot helper, called the VGC-60L, stands in front of him. “I’m not this pathetic!”
But as Frank soon learns, he doesn’t have much of a choice. His new robot helper is there to cook, clean, garden and keep him company. His son, mired in family and work life, is too busy to care for his ailing father.
Just like Frank, as the baby boomer generation grows old and if the number of elderly care workers fails to grow with it, many people might end up being cared for by robots. According to the Health and Human Services Department, there will be 72.1 million Americans over the age of 65 by 2030, which is nearly double the number today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country will need 70 percent more home aide jobs by 2020, long before that bubble of retirees. But filling those jobs is proving to be difficult because the salaries are low. In many states, in-home aides make an average of $20,820 annually.
“There are two trends that are going in opposite directions. One is the increasing number of elderly people, and the other is the decline in the number of people to take care of them,” said Jim Osborn, a roboticist and executive director of the Robotics Institute’s Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. “Part of the view we’ve already espoused is that robots will start to fill in those gaps.”
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed Cody, a robotic nurse the university says is “gentle enough to bathe elderly patients.” There is also HERB, which is short for Home Exploring Robot Butler. Made by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, it is designed to fetch household objects like cups and can even clean a kitchen. Hector, a robot that is being developed by the University of Reading in England, can remind patients to take their medicine, keep track of their eyeglasses and assist in the event of a fall.
The technology is nearly there. But some researchers worry that we are not asking a fundamental question: Should we entrust the care of people in their 70s and older to artificial assistants rather than doing it ourselves?
Sherry Turkle, a professor of science, technology and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” did a series of studies with Paro, a therapeutic robot that looks like a baby harp seal and is meant to have a calming effect on patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s and in health care facilities. The professor said she was troubled when she saw a 76-year-old woman share stories about her life with the robot.
“I felt like this isn’t amazing; this is sad. We have been reduced to spectators of a conversation that has no meaning,” she said. “Giving old people robots to talk to is a dystopian view that is being classified as utopian.” Professor Turkle said robots did not have a capacity to listen or understand something personal, and tricking patients to think they can is unethical.
That’s the catch. Leaving the questions of ethics aside for a moment, building robots is not simply about creating smart machines; it is about making something that is not human still appear, somehow, trustworthy.
The Latest Bing News on:
- Amazon is having a huge sale on iRobot vacuums for Cyber Week: Best deals up to 38% offon November 29, 2023 at 8:11 am
Since bursting onto the scene in 2002, iRobot's Roomba robotic vacuums have changed the way we clean. While the device is normally a pricey investment, right now you can score the top-rated iRobot ...
- Last chance to get this Roomba robot vacuum for $159 (42% off)on November 29, 2023 at 4:50 am
The iRobot Roomba 694 robot vacuum, which will be enough to help keep the floors clean for most households, is available from Amazon for $159, but not for long.
- Could robots and AI help older people age well?on November 28, 2023 at 4:00 pm
Robotics, sensors, artificial intelligence and other digital technologies will help support an ageing population into the future and a new research centre aims to find out just how these new ...
- Teaching robots to ask for help (IMAGE)on November 28, 2023 at 2:37 pm
Engineers at Princeton University and Google have come up with a new way to teach robots to know when they don’t know and ask for clarification from a human.
- New method uses crowdsourced feedback to help train robotson November 27, 2023 at 3:07 pm
A new technique enables an AI agent to be guided by data crowdsourced asynchronously from nonexpert human users as it learns to complete a task through reinforcement learning. The method trains the ...
- Watch As Nissan Teaches Robots To Make Classic Partson November 27, 2023 at 2:29 pm
Nissan’s engineers are looking at a new way of using robots to make low-production car parts out of sheet steel. This will make the production of replacement parts for discontinued parts, like those ...
- Humanoid robots could be the next big thing to come from the AI boom. Take a look at 8 of the most advanced ones around.on November 26, 2023 at 2:52 am
Business Insider has taken a look at eight of the most advanced robots around. Human-like robots have long been the stuff of science-fiction films, but tech companies are edging ever closer to making ...
- His team is using artificial intelligence to help kill canceron November 23, 2023 at 3:00 am
The robotic arm will allow doctors to more accurately monitor the progress of high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment as it is happening.
- Warehouses Can Be Dangerous Places To Work. Do Robots Help Or Hurt?on November 22, 2023 at 2:02 pm
The holiday rush is on, bringing with it boxes, bags and familiar scenes of shoppers knocking each other over. Less visible is the peril lurking inside warehouses.
- Generative gap: Helping machines help uson November 22, 2023 at 9:44 am
Worried about robots going rogue? Experts say the best way to keep AI in check is to help it become more like us.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”helper robots” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
The Latest Bing News on:
- Hudson River Park’s Latest Weapon Against Water Pollution is a Robot Shark — and it Needs a Nameon November 29, 2023 at 12:11 am
But the latest new hi-tech helper in the Park’s battle against water pollution is as yet unnamed — so it’s time to put your thinking caps on. “Our new addition needs a worthy name, and you can help!
- Best robot vacuum 2023: Black Friday savings on our favourite tested cleaners for carpets, mopping and self-emptyingon November 28, 2023 at 2:42 am
Sick of doing the weekly hoovering? Why not let one of the best robot vacuum cleaners give you a helping hand? Robot vacuum cleaners are no longer the expensive pieces of home cleaning tech they ...
- how experts think humanoid robots will change the world by 2035on November 27, 2023 at 5:35 am
DailyMail.com spoke to leading experts on how humanoid robots could change the world - with one expert saying that the tech will grow 'exponentially' this decade.
- Science in Space: Robotic Helpers – NASAon November 27, 2023 at 1:33 am
Crew time is a valuable resource on the International Space Station and its value only increases for future space missions. One way to make the most of crew ...
- Roborock offers up to $400 in savings for Black Friday on its autonomous Siri-ready robot cleaning systemson November 24, 2023 at 6:51 pm
Roborock deals have now arrived with up to $400 in savings at the ready. You’re looking at some of the best prices all year and a chance to hand off yo ...
- Hate tidying? Scientists develop a cleaning ROBOT that can pick up messy clothes strewn across the bedroomon November 24, 2023 at 8:25 am
Scientists from UC Berkeley have come to the rescue of teenagers and parents everywhere by designing a cleaning robot that uses AI to find the most efficient way to collect scattered laundry.
- The flying, swimming and tunneling robots inspired by natureon November 24, 2023 at 7:51 am
Drawing inspiration from birds, fish and even worms, researchers in Europe are developing machines to explore places on Earth that are difficult for people to reach.
- Sudbury-designed construction robot prepping for first home build in 2024on November 24, 2023 at 5:01 am
Automation on the job site could solve labour shortages, help meet provincial housing targets, says researcher ...
- Prepare to Save a Fortune With These Vacuum Deals—Including Dyson, Roomba, and Moreon November 23, 2023 at 11:00 pm
Vacuum Black Friday deals are here and now is the time to add these items to your cart ASAP. Whether you’re looking for a vacuum that’ll deep clean the whole house, searching ...
- A backyard factory: How robots empower you to create your own productson November 20, 2023 at 7:00 am
These two innovations led to big factories hosting big machines that cut, pressed, ground, and fused raw materials into forms usable in products. The steam engine combined with robust metallurgy also ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”robot helpers” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]