Will Robots & Chatbots Be A Part Of Your Future?

Research On The Use of “Digital Assistants” For Keeping Us Healthy   
The use of Robots is front and center in my life lately. I’ve been bombarded with info on how robotics is being tested, and researched to help the more mature adult glide into a more peaceful phase of life. The Wall Street Journal, Theaters in Chicago,and Katie Couric’s new show on National Geographic; “America Inside Out” have all addressed the interest in, and development of robots and chatbots as potentially taking the place of human interaction in our lives.
A recent WSJ article by Imani Moise, describes a 67-year-old man, living alone who is using a portable robot named Mabu to check on him to make sure he is taking his meds, check his irregular heartbeat, and take this information back to his health care provider through electronics.  Apparently, Mr. Bryd, the user of Mabu, refers to her as “My little blue-eyed girl friend who keeps me on my toes.”
                                        There are ER’s and there are ER’s
Okay. I get it.  The aging population is growing exponentially, and ER’s, nursing programs and hospitals are not equipped to handle the overload.  SO — these Robots are being developed to help the older patient circumvent going to the ER.  Interestingly, recent advancements in this field have the robots constructed so they are able to talk more like humans. Katie Couric in her recent piece on how tech affects us actually interacted with a female robot. It was quite amusing and worth watching her show to see their interaction play out!  This new technology has allowed nursing home visits to be curtailed, and prevented some unnecessary trips to the ER.
 Does It Help The Loneliness of Losing Friends and Family?
A play, my husband and I saw at The Lookinglass Theater in Chicago ,revolved around the interactions with humans and robots and their relationships.  It’s complicated. We all know older people who lament the loss of their friends and family as they move forward to the higher age brackets.  The WSJ article posits that the more mature adults who  typically are not what we marketers refer to as early adopters, have embraced the idea of having automated friends. It seems the people who are isolated tend to be more receptive to their robots, and apparently talk to them interactively. Personally, I think it more of a male thing!
 Let’s Get Real
Can Robots and Chatbots really replace the human interactions that so many of us crave either instinctively or in more opaque ways?  Not so, claim the experts in the field.  I do see the robots as helping in the future transmit info to healthcare providers, friends and family whom are far away geographically.  My empathic side feels strongly there is so substitution for the human touch. Today, I had the pleasure of meeting a more mature adult who works, at Eataly, in downtown Chicago.  It’s a wonderful food emporium with all foods from Italy.  This woman I met today told me she is almost on disability, but has a job where she leans on the counter in her area, and helps introduce new fruits and vegetables to customers. She actually peeled, cut and did a demonstration on how to serve and prepare a watermelon radish.  It was a wonderful interchange for both me and for her.
Food for thought?



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