An alarming post on American blog Our Parents suggests that robots could be taking over some aged caregiving duties within the next three years.
Through a combination of speech, gesture, and touch recognition caregiver robots will aid elderly people in a variety of ways.
Rest home caregivers struggle to provide meaningful interaction with elderly in their care now as underfunding of the sector means that resthome staff are very stretched.
Although a robot may remove the risk of human error when administering medicines, for example, they will also lack the personal connection that we, as humans, need. And attempts to make the robots too human-like may backfire because of a phenomenon known as the “uncanny valley:” when a robot or animated character is too lifelike people will react with revulsion. Psychologically, we cannot handle machines that are too perfect and lifelike.
I hope no-one suggests bringing this to New Zealand.