When A.I. was released, the movie was met with generally favorable reviews. I liked it, but the movie seemed to be two different films in one. The middle part was an adventure story about a robot seeking to be a human and all the struggles that a future Pinocchio might face. The beginning and the end were more about defining what human is, and the meaning of relationships.
I always liked the beginning-ending story better. Much of it is effectively heart-breaking as we watch a family try and replace a lost child with a robot in the beginning, and in the end watch that robot-child define the “perfect day” as one filled with spending time with another person, his human mother.
I couldn’t get that movie out of my head as I read The Future of Robot Caregivers from the NY Times. The article discusses whether the difficult job of caregiving can be done by robots.
As I meet with elders and their children, I watch them all struggle with providing this kind of care and companionship. Sometimes they face being far away, or having limited means, or having a senior with particularly challenging care needs. Not all of them can avoid having the senior spend lots of time alone.
The comedian Louis C.K. has a bit (as comics call a comedy sketch) about how the reason why we are so attached to our phones, and texting, and sending stuff on Facebook is that we are terrified about being alone. One of his points is that we should get more comfortable being alone and being scared about being alone.
Perhaps robot caregivers is a partial solution, perhaps not, but seniors shouldn’t have to be lonely in their old age. Providing that companionship is a matter of respect and dignity and they’ve earned both.
Posted by Victor Medina, Medina Law Group, LLC