In a rather bizarre press release, the Department for Business has suggested that care robots could revolutionise the UK care system and provide the required and much needed extra “staff” support.
And yet the Department’s press release is a serious proposition. They said:
The UK moves one step closer to developing robots capable of providing support for Britons and making caring responsibilities easier, thanks to £34 million government investment announced today (Saturday 26 October).
With one in seven people in the UK now expected to be over 75 years old by 2040, so-called “care robots” could help provide the UK’s dedicated adult social care sector with more assistance for those who need it most.
The government today launched the UK’s biggest research programme entirely dedicated to making autonomous systems safe and trustworthy for public use with investment that could help develop robots to one day fulfil tasks such as helping an elderly person up after a fall and raising the alarm, delivering food to an older person at mealtimes, and even ensuring they take crucial medication at the correct time.
Autonomous systems are currently built across industries to solve challenges, but in order to be used by people they need to be designed to be safe, keep data secure and have a clear set of rules in order for them to make effective decisions.
This cutting-edge programme will undertake research into their design, for example ensuring robots are better protected against cyber-attacks and that they demonstrate principles like respect, fairness and equality enabling them to eventually be used in environments like care homes and hospitals. It will provide developers, policy makers and regulators with access to world leading experts, as well as the to the latest information and guidelines around this technology. In the healthcare sector, resulting applications, such as care robots, could work in tandem with professionals to assist and complement their work, and help relieve pressures.
Can you imagine being at the mercy of “Iron-man” in your dotage? Sci-Fi seems to have slipped closer to our reality than many of us would feel comfortable. And what about the dispossessed care workers of the human variety?
Should we be concerned? How long before the drinks machine is waddling round your office asking if you need one lump or two?