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Would You Trust a Robot to Give Your Grandmother Her Meds?

Building successful human-robot interactions means learning a lot more about what it means to trust someone or something

3 min read
Would You Trust a Robot to Give Your Grandmother Her Meds?
Photo: Laura Lezza/Getty Images

robots report icon

Why do we get nervous when we think about robots working among us instead of tethered to the factory floor? We’re already dependent on hundreds if not thousands of automated systems and processes. We fly on planes that fly themselves. Our electrical grid can redirect itself to avoid power outages. We expect these systems to be reliable and safe, and to do what they’ve been programmed to do and nothing more.

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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