Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, August 17, 2012

You May Have a Robot Caretaker When You're Old

Slate - August 17, 2012, by Thomas Rogers

Promotional poster for "Robot and Frank."

Early in the new science-fiction film Robot & Frank (opening Aug. 17 in New York and Aug. 24 elsewhere), Frank, an elderly man, gets a visit from his son, Hunter. Worried about his father's apparent decline, Hunter takes a gift out of the back of his car: a white robot with a humanlike body and a polite speaking voice. The machine, Hunter promises, will keep his dad healthy and focused—and the house clean. Frank’s not so sure: "That thing's going to kill me in my sleep," he worries. But before long, the "health care" robot is cooking his meals, planting a garden, and planning activities to keep his human overlord occupied.

The film's depiction of robot-human relations may still be a fantasy, but it's also a reminder we've been expecting elder care robots like Frank's in the real world for several years now, and so far, they're nowhere to be seen. So what's the hold up?

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