The United States is reaching a large proportion of older adults who presently need health care, with these astronomical numbers rising. Statistics reported by the Population Reference Bureau states that Americans ages 65 and older, numbering 45 million today, is projected to double to over 98 million by year 2060.
Health care and assisted living facilities are housing older adults who are 85 and older. Family members are a limited source of help and the home care industry is experiencing a fast turn-over of staff. Due to these rapid changes, higher mortality rates and may more admissions will occur. This is the time to consider assistive robots to step in and help.
Japan is the leading nation whose older population is being assisted by robotic technology, including humanoid robots. The U.S. is reluctantly adopting to assistive robots. Robotic engineers believe that robots can serve three basic needs to help our older population: privacy, companionship and surveillance. Does the government support humanoid robotics. The answer is yes. The U.S. military is chocked full of robotic devices. Robots on two-legs, in the art of war, is just around the corner.
The lovely humanoid – Sophia
For seniors living in a facility, they require help with bathing, dressing, eating, turning in bed, dementia care, or rehabilitation assistance. Here is where we introduce the humanoid robot – "Sophia." Sophia is a humanoid robot who has a mix of advanced flexible abilities, voice, the ability to recognize images and faces, natural language processing, the ability to recognize things through touch, and many other features.1
Sophia was created by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, who is a former "Imagineer" at the Disney Corporation. David reported that he designed Sophia to look like Audrey Hepburn. He created her with a porcelain skin, intriguing smile, high cheekbones, and expressive eyes. Sophia has appeared on many media talk shows and was featured on the cover of a top fashion magazine.
Her advanced mental acuity was demonstrated as she sat face-to-face in a board room setting with business experts. She answered questions, sitting across from industry decision makers in banking, insurance, auto manufacturing, property development, media and entertainment. Sophia has also been featured on high-level scientific stages on the discussion of artificial intelligence and robotics.
David Hanson states that Sophia technology is still an evolving process. Her human likeness will evolve, her expressions will become almost natural and her intelligence will become more enhanced. Personal care robots are being developed with the ability to process, sense and record information. Immediate assistance is needed in the care of the aging population, which means that robots must be able to perform tasks in real-time.
Robotic experts are working on these traits, as well as enabling robots to learn and intuitively make decisions on the spot. When assistive humanoid robots are introduced, would you use "Sophia-like" robots to help take care of your family members? Given human nature, I am afraid the answer is yes. With certain guarantees and the lack of time that younger family members can devote to their aging parents, grandparents, etc. – this will happen!