Mechanical empathy seems too risky. Will policymakers transcend inertia and choose for robot care? The world needs it

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Abstract

An ageing population, increasing longevity and below-replacement fertility increase the care burden worldwide. This comes with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer disease and other dementias, cardiovascular disorders, cancer and—hardly noticed—pandemic loneliness. The burden, both emotionally and economically, starts to become astronomical and cannot be carried by those few who need to combine care with work and family. Social solidarity programmes are part of the answer, but they do not relieve the human helper. Yet, many hands are needed where but a few are available. Capacity issues can be solved by the introduction of care robots. Research shows that state-of-the-art technology is such that care robots can become nonthreatening social entities and be accepted and appreciated by the lonesome. Massive employment of such devices is impeded, however, sufficient governmental support of R&D is lacking—financially and regulatorily. This is where policymakers should step in and get over their moral prejudices and those of their voters and stop being afraid of losing political backing. They will regain it in the long run.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobotics - legal, ethical and socioeconomic impacts
PublisherIN-TECH
Pages113
Number of pages131
ISBN (Electronic)978-953-51-3636-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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