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IEET > Life > Access > Enablement > Innovation > Health > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Dick Pelletier

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Will the elderly be taken care of by robots?


Dick Pelletier
Dick Pelletier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Dec 19, 2012

As we go forward into what promises to be an amazing “magical future,” robots will boost economies around the world, while raising living standards for the elderly.

The robots are coming: get ready to be pampered,

Since the dawn of civilized humanity, humans have depended on technology. Carving out flint stones, controlling fire, inventing the wheel, and developing the printing press have brought us to self-serving gas, ATMs and automated checkouts – and this trend will only continue.

By 2015, automation will evolve with ‘smart’ radio-frequency identification chips that identify store items you select and automatically charge them to your bank/credit card as you walk out the door.

By 2025, auto-drive cars will speak perfect human, and armed with the latest artificial intelligence, these driverless electric vehicles will provide humanity with its safest method of transportation ever.

Two-legged robotic systems will also advance as we wind through the next two decades. Willow Garage, a Menlo Park, CA maker of robot hardware and software just released a test version of their personal robot platform, the PR2, designed to help senior citizens in their daily lives.

The machine follows the elderly around their homes, providing a number of essential services, which include enabling Internet access, medicine reminders, opening doors, grabbing the morning paper; and retrieving objects from drawers such as clothes, pill bottles, and other living necessities.

Today, this system sells for a whopping $400,000, but as technologies advance in the coming years, by as early as 2020, units like these could be reasonably priced and covered by insurance companies. In addition, tomorrow’s improved heavier-duty versions will even carry handicapped patients upstairs and help with bathing procedures.

The government of South Korea hopes to place advanced robots like these in every home by 2020, and this is promoting competition with companies like Samsung, Sony, Honda, Toyota, and others.

Tomorrow’s robots will not ‘think’ exactly like us, but with human-like memory systems described by Jeff Hawkins in his book, On Intelligence, they could become great companions to isolated seniors.

As we go forward into what promises to be an amazing “magical future,” robots will boost economies around the world, while raising living standards for the elderly.


Dick Pelletier is a weekly columnist who writes about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He's also appeared on various TV shows, and he blogs at Immortaltech.
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The dying can also be comforted by ‘bots.





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