Monday , August 21 2017
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Machine-Beings and Elder Care

The use of technology in elder care to augment and/or replace the human touch is rapidly expanding. There is a growing need for technology to help people remain independent as long as possible, as well as to provide ongoing, highly personalized attention to those who are infirm or suffer from dementia.

Self-driving cars will be highly useful to seniors living independently. Losing the ability to confidently and safely drive is a great blow to many seniors, forcing them to depend on others for help shopping, going to the doctor, or attend social events. Self-driving cars will help seniors retain their freedom and avoid isolation.

Robotic cats are being used to comfort and engage patients with dementia in Memory Care units of several nursing homes around the country. The patients are sometimes aware that the cats are not real, but nonetheless cultivate important relationships with them.  While it’s true that they might benefit more from personal, human contact, few facilities are able to staff at levels to provide constant attention to each patient.

Other products use artificial intelligence and voice recognition technologies to make daily calls to seniors living at home to check on their health and well-being. According to one such business:

Care Angel revolutionizes the science of aging-in-place and the care of aging loved ones. The award winning, patent-pending intelligent virtual caregiving assistant technology, Smart Care 3.0, promises to deliver on high quality senior care, provide peace of mind for family caregivers and cost-savings, potentially in the billions of dollars, for the health care industry, especially for payers and providers.

It is not a great leap from today’s technology to using machine-beings with artificial intelligence to care for and provide companionship to the elderly. Although the technology posited in MARJORIE PRIME is not yet fully realized, it is already nearly here.

Marjorie Prime runs Feb 7 – Mar 5 at Artists Repertory Theatre