Robots That Care – New Yorker’s Summary on Therapy/Medical Robots

‘Robots That Care’ is an interesting summary piece from New Yorker that came out early this week.
It gives a summary of what studies have been done, and are being done in the field of therapy robots.

Dr. Mataric (University of Southern California), who has been studying the human-robot interaction side of therapy robots, is the main scientist introduced in the article. Some of her studies introduced in the article include the effect of robot’s personality in motivating stroke patients, and effectiveness of human-robot versus human-computer interaction with Alzheimer’s patients.

CosmoBot, a Wizard of Oz type therapy robot for children with autism and genetic disorders, built by AnthroTronix is also introduced.

Especially interesting is how Dr. Mataric’s graduate student, David Feil-Seifer, is using robotic gestures to interact with children with autism.

The article also talks about Dr. Sherry Turkle’s (MIT) worries on the risks of using robots for therapy. Some of her arguments remind me of Dr. Mattias Scheutz’s presentation on ‘The Inherent Dangers of Unidirectional Emotional Bonds‘ at International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2009 (ICRA’09). At ICRA’09 he gave a comprehensive summary of one-sided emotional bonds humans have already started to build with Roomba, AIBO, and Baby So Real. I wish the presentation was available to the public somewhere online. I’ll have to look for it. Regardless, it is really good to see that more people are talking about the dangers of emotional and social bonds of robot usage.

To read the full article ‘Robots that Care‘ by Jerome Groopman, please visit: New Yorker.


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