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Social robots: how artificial intelligence can be used to help in social care

Social robots: how artificial intelligence can be used to help in social care

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly prevalently used within the scientific arena, less something which is used in the far-off dystopian futures of science fiction, the technology of artificial intelligence is being implemented in different ways throughout a number of industries and sectors in the world.

From big business through to computing and in areas such as medicine and even publishing, the idea of ‘robots’ which can function and perform very ‘human’ tasks is no longer vastly unbelievable as a concept and contrary to some of the dystopian science fiction we’re showcasing this month, robots have not taken over the world! Instead they support and facilitate progress and offer new advances and methods of working and living which are becoming instrumentally necessary as the culture and way of living in the world develops and changes.

Artificial intelligence is provably making significant developments in such areas as medicine with technology offering solutions to some medical problems and extensions to life for some patients, but what about in day-to-day living?

The technology of artificial intelligence has been in the news recently as scientists have been attempting to seek out new ways of helping with social issues such as the provision of an alternative means of elderly care and in addition, companionship for those in need.

Studies have been conducted with subjects from groups such as the elderly or disabled which utilise artificial intelligence in assisting people with tasks which are difficult for them in everyday life. Whether this was assisting in physical tasks or the playing of game of chess, for example, robots which were artificially intelligent humanoid hybrids were integrated into the social care of both elderly and disabled participants in order to test the viability of robot support of this kind in the future.

The results of these studies seem to suggest that participants responded well to the support offered by the AIs but may have found it difficult to bond and respond to the robots as they might a human. This is a limitation currently being worked upon by leading experts in the field such as our STEM speaker Tony Belpaeme, who works on the concept of social robots, that is, robots capable of reacting to us the way a human would and which can encourage us to respond positively to them as a companion and assistant. Clearly there needs to be a strong connection between the robot and the human it is aiding and whilst this undergoes development, perhaps using robots in social care is not an immediate solution to issues arising in social care, but studies being carried out certainly make it a feasible option for the future.

Until then, we’ll keep looking out for the ways in which artificial intelligence is being used in our society right now.