Description: Consider these statements. The number of elderly people who are living alone and who do or will need some support to remain on their own is growing very quickly. The costs of providing this care can be prohibitive and finding enough people to provide what care can be paid for is also becoming increasingly difficult. What to do? How about using (where appropriate) robots (Robo-pets) and apps to check in with or keep tabs on solo-dwelling elderly people? What could go right about this? What could go wrong? Most importantly, what research and what ethical thinking would we need to do to even begin to address these questions? Once you have thought a bit about this give the linked article a read to see what its author has been thinking about in this area.
Source: Loneliness and Robo-Pets, Arthur Dobrin, Am I Right? Psychology Today.
Date: October 8, 2021
So, will robot pets or robot companions de-humanize us or re-humanize us? It may seem like an easy to answer question but it is early in the development trajectory so we may not be in a position yet to decide and deciding early might foreclose on possible big advances. Perhaps a better question is how should we proceed and, relatively, what sorts of things should we be tracking and researching along the way?
Questions for Discussion:
- What could some of the advantages be of using robots or robo-pets in elder care?
- What could some of the disadvantages be of using robots or robo-pets in elder care?
- What steps or processes should we be taking or preparing to take in this area moving forward?
References (Read Further):
Pike, J., Picking, R., & Cunningham, S. (2021). Robot companion cats for people at home with dementia: A qualitative case study on companotics. Dementia, 20(4), 1300-1318. Link
Lazar, A., Thompson, H. J., Piper, A. M., & Demiris, G. (2016, June). Rethinking the design of robotic pets for older adults. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 1034-1046). Link
Jung, M. M., van der Leij, L., & Kelders, S. M. (2017). An exploration of the benefits of an animallike robot companion with more advanced touch interaction capabilities for dementia care. Frontiers in ICT, 4, 16. Link
Ananto, R. A., & Young, J. E. (2020). Robot pets for everyone: the untapped potential for domestic social robots. Link
Poulsen, A., & Burmeister, O. K. (2019). Overcoming carer shortages with care robots: Dynamic value trade-offs in run-time. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 23. Link
Bradwell, H. L., Winnington, R., Thill, S., & Jones, R. B. (2020). Ethical perceptions towards real-world use of companion robots with older people and people with dementia: survey opinions among younger adults. BMC geriatrics, 20(1), 1-10. Link