Friday, February 03, 2017

Eeek, watch out, the robot

Constance Gustke, NYT, Jan 20, 2017, writes about how robots are affecting older, retired people. I would say, helping, but I am not sure.

One couple, in a retirement, home had a "screen head" pal who "scuttles" around on wheels. He dials their family for calls, among other things. They named him Jimmy and declared they are now on the cutting edge.

Virtual reality, says the director of the Age Lab at MIT, is for young and old alike.

He also pointed out that robots like Jimmy can augment the efforts of adult children to take care of their parents.

A guy at Stanford dubs these servos "consumer robots."

Jimmy was invented by OhmniLabs, whose co-founder jumped straight to how isolated many old people are.

Jimmy's "parents" (owners?) are beta-testing the little fellow. He will cost 20% as much as a full-time caregiver.

In five to seven years, predicted one source, home caregiving will shift and such automatons will become mainstream.

Brookdale Senior Living is also testing Virtual Realty devices that allow people to walk through their old homes or go to remote places. That sounded kinda cool.

Meanwhile, Jimmy's owners take him on the elevator to pick up breakfast (for the owner, presumably, not the robot).

All these companies tout the companionship potential of these devices.

My question is--if the Artificial Intelligence capability of these keeps on you know, "learning," so as to know the owner and communicate meaningfully or even enterainingly, would it get out of control? Remember those assistive monkeys that turn on their disabled owners in horror flix?

Just asking...

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