Are Robots the Solution to Understaffed Nursing Homes?

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"Are robots the solution to understaffed nursing homes?" 1A on WAMU 88.5 FM, 23 May 2022. Audio 46 minutes, 25 seconds. As of 25 May 2022 linked here [1] and here.[2]

From the 1A main page (link 2 above).

More than 200,000 residents or workers at long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19.

For many, the pandemic has exposed cracks in our long-term care systems — from staffing shortages to chronic loneliness among residents.

What if a robot could fix both?

A program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth is using automation technology to find out. [***]

The notion of using robots in nursing homes also raises ethical issues — about data and privacy and the importance of human-to-human contact.

We talk with Dr. Khan and others about the intersection of technology and geriatric care.


Arshia Khan: computer science professor, University of Minnesota-Duluth; programs robotics for geriatric care

Alexis Elder: professor of philosophy, ethics, and technology, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Kim Gaskell: executive director, RiverWoods Durham retirement community in Durham, New Hampshire

Note venue and voices: A morning radio talk show for an educated and upscale lay audience, but a lay audience, with main voices both reinforcing a gender (and ethnicity) stereotype or two and undermining them: women, primarily, discussing a in the area of nurturing — but in the context of robotics, AI, automation, and some difficult questions in ethics, economics, labor relations, and politics (including surveillance and privacy issues, and the threat of hacking of patient-care robots).

Question here of what was discussed as "the human touch": Is robot touch better than none? In what ways could robots be quite use with a robotic touch? Issues once examined in works like I. Asimov's I, Robot have become practical questions. Note that the mild gendering of the robots is strong enough to get host and guests consistently calling the robots "she" and not "it."

RDE, finishing, 25May22