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Carebots Raise Ethical Questions on Assisting Older Adults

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robotic caregiver with elderly patient

Credit: Getty Images

An analysis by researchers from North Carolina State University highlights the realistic pros and cons of technologies that use artificial intelligence to benefit older adults, including those facing dementia and cognitive decline. The work focuses on how these technologies can help older adults preserve their autonomy, and addresses ethical concerns that have been raised about the use of AI in so-called "carebots."

"This is a reality check based on the state of the science, what may be available in the very near future, and the ethical issues that have been raised surrounding these technologies," says Allen Coin, a graduate student at NC State and first author of "Carebots for Eldercare: Technology, Ethics, and Implications," which appears as a chapter in the book Trust in Human-Robot Interactions (Elsevier Academic Press, 2020).

Carebots run the gamut from smart apps that remind users when to take their medication to more advanced robotic devices that can retrieve prescriptions for patients or help patients get out of bed.

This paper explores the state of the art of carebot technology, summarizes and addresses ethical concerns about carebots, and makes recommendations for the present and near future use of the technology for providing care for the elderly.

From North Carolina State University
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