Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / February 12th, 2008

Robot Healthcare for the Elderly: Worst Idea Ever?

I came across this article today on CNET:

Household robots may help human carers look after the growing number of elderly Norwegians in years to come, enabling them to live longer and more comfortably in their own homes, a project leader told Reuters on Thursday.

Norway faces a growing shortage of health care staff over the next 5 to 10 years, and 2020 will be a crunch point when large numbers of post-World War II baby boomers leave the workforce.

Two employee groups have teamed up to see how robots and other high-tech gadgets can be developed to help care for them.

“Technology will contribute to resolve part of the challenge with employees in the health care sector,” Olav Ulleren, head of a group representing Norwegian municipalities, told Reuters. “It could also help people live longer in their own homes.”

Ulleren said robots and other devices could do housework like washing clothes and dishes and cleaning the floor.

Equipment to help people look after their health–by, for example, giving daily tests, handling medical surveillance, and taking care of personal hygiene–could also play a role, he said.

Wheelchair users could also benefit, the groups said.via videosift.com

I like where your heart is, Olav, but this is nuts.  Old people already fear computers, much less a robot sticking them for a diabetes test!  Here’s a better idea: robots to care for children, freeing up people to deal with the elderly.  Stay with me now.  Old people are afraid of robots, while kids don’t know any better.  And there’s another upside.  By the time the kids are old, they’ll be fine with Olav’s crazy robot idea.  Then we won’t need human interaction ever again!

First thing that came to mind when I read this was this fantastic video from Saturday Night Live: