Friday Factoids: Robots could help solve social care crisis, and evolutionarily destroy the function of our mirror neurons at the same time! (How wonderful?)



International teams of engineers are developing humanoid robots to deal with our ‘social care crisis’.


Tasked with the responsibility to interact with the elderly in care homes, these ‘personal social’ robots will be able to be specifically programed to match the personality type of the people they will be working with. According to a British Broadcasting Communication (BBC) article, “It is hoped the new robots will help improve the well-being of their charges by providing entertainment and enabling them to connect better, through smart appliances, with family and the outside world.”


My question to you is, what would you do if you could build yourself a robot? Posing this very question to an exceptionally scholarly and brilliant 13-year-old girl (and highly favored niece), I attempted to address this issue. According to her, if she had a clone robot, she would have the robot do all her chores and homework, so she could have the free time to, you guessed it, socialize (the sweet irony of an upcoming Generation Z’er). I suppose this is the sentiment shared by most, which is to have technology do our dirty work, like making our food, cleaning up after us, and now doing our Therapy, so we could then have the free time to do what we really want, perhaps connecting with other people.


That is the purpose of technology in theory. In practice however, I am noticing the opposite. As we progress into the information age, where the world is flat; I recognize that people are becoming less connected. Yes, we are coming into contact with more and more people, but we are ‘connecting’ with fewer. Weekly, we are adding to the already hundreds of ‘friends’ we have on Facebook, while grandpa plays chess with a robot. In the information age, our communication is becoming limited to 140 characters tweets or less and Facebook postings of the Panera sandwich and Kale smoothie we had for lunch (because our friends really want to know). Still, we wonder why we feel depressed and lonely.


I have an idea. Maybe we should give grants to engineers to program robots to do our Tweeting, so we could have more time to spend with our grandparents.


Robots could help solve social care crisis, say academics<>[×9/p04r8ghc.jpg


Dianne Rapsey-Vanburen, M.A.
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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