Artificial Intelligence: Seniors’ New Best Friend?

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The future, like the one The Jetsons and Star Trek showed us, might not be as far away as you think. Artificial Intelligence has gone from fiction to fact in the last one hundred years, and now it might be a senior citizen’s new best friend. While not at the level of Rosie the robot maid or Data the android, artificial intelligence has developed far enough to offer potential care to seniors, or at least unique companionship. Zoe Corbyn, a reporter for The Guardian, reported on a story about 93-year-old Juanita and her robotic companion, ElliQ.

Similar in size and shape to an Amazon Echo, ElliQ converses with Juanita, tells jokes, reports on current events, and encourages Juanita to stay mentally active. ElliQ is different in its design, however, having a robotic appearance and a gimble that can convey rudimentary, quizzical expressions. Intuition Robotics, the creators of ElliQ, are seeking to combat loneliness in seniors and sponsor heighten brain activity and more human-to-human interaction. They say that their robots are not meant to replace genuine human connections, but to offer a helping hand when seniors find themselves alone and in need of attention. In Corbyn’s story, Juanita considers her and her robot to be friends, but is very aware of the fact that the robot is just that… a machine. In moments of isolation during the pandemic, ElliQ offered comfort, and now that Juanita can socialize a little more, she doesn’t hesitate to seek genuine human socialization.

There is a debate going on as to whether artificially intelligent devices cause more harm than good. Skeptics are worried that seniors with mental illness will start to rely on a robot companion more than actual humans, giving it human qualities that it could never live up to. It is always collecting data to learn how to interact better, so there is a question of privacy, but Juanita doesn’t mind. Those in favor argue it is the same as having a stuffed animal as a child. Both sides agree that it could never fully replace human-to-human connections. Some argue that it can be a helpful tool to combat loneliness in those moments in between our next interaction. Regardless of these opinions, robotics continues to advance and senior citizens remain a key demographic they look to serve.

The Council for Retirement Security wants to protect your Social Security benefits against reckless government spending. The Social Security Lock-Box Petition works to guard Social Security, protecting the Social Security Trust’s present and future. If you wanted to use your benefits to invest in a robot companion for yourself, you should be able to effortlessly. The Council for Retirement Security wants to see that you receive your benefits in full, so you and your potential robot butler can kick back and enjoy retirement in true Jetson’s style.

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