Will Robots Take Care Of Grandma? That Tech Could Be On The Horizon

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Would you trust your kids or elderly parents in the hands of a machine? Well, new technology could be on the horizon that would give caregivers to take advantage of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Larry Unrein, an executive at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said they had invested in a Silicon Valley startup that specializes in AI and robotics to see how they could apply new technologies to caregiving.

Anki wants to apply “24-hour robotics that can interact” on caregiving, Unrein said at a conference on caregiving hosted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) on Tuesday.

AARP says more than 40 million Americans are family caregivers, including taking care for parents, sick spouses and disabled children.

Unrein said the technology would “not only have conversations, recognize people” it “can certainly do things that help folks, such as remembering to go to doctors appointments or call a Lyft driver or take medications.”

Caregiver robotics would “provide quality of life, which is interaction and entertainment and stimulus,” Unrein said during a panel discussion on how robotics and AI can be used to enhance in-home caregiving.

Robots and AI are increasingly becoming part of a national conversation on what the future economy might look like amid ever increasing mechanization. Some worry technologies, like self-driving cars, will displace millions of workers.

Several car companies, including Ford and Tesla, have begun to explore self-driving vehicles. Tesla has released some self-driving cars, and founder Elon Musk announced in October future car deliveries would include all the hardware needed to become “full self-driving.”

Ironically, Musk is one of the most alarmist when it comes to the spread of AI technology. Musk has even said humanity will need an off-world colony, like Mars, to escape a potential AI uprising.

Unrein, on the other hand, sees robotics and AI as useful for the caregiving industry.

“And then, lastly, think about one of the things we can do today is monitor,” Unrein said, “you can look and see what’s going on in your home, but what you can’t do necessarily is interact real time unless someone is actually there.”

“But think about if there was a robot that would allow you to do that?” Unrein said.

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