Remember the Twilight Zone episode with the "Electric Grandmother", a life-like robot who won over a widower's children and grew to be loved by them as they grew up?
Submitted for your approval: the scenario is switched around, with a life-like android assisting an elderly Alzheimer's patient. Again, reminiscent of the recent movie "Robot & Frank", except that movie used a Honda ASIMO robot lookalike - very much a little robot, and not a simulated person.
|Nadia and Nadine|
This may indeed come to pass because of machines like Nadine, a robot assistant developed by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's Institute of Media Innovation.
The 1.7-metre tall Nadine was created in the likeness of its maker, Nadia Thalmann, a visiting professor and director of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's Institute of Media Innovation who has spent three decades researching into virtual humans.
Nadine's software allows the robot to express a range of emotions and recall a previous conversation. Nadine is not commercially available, but Thalmann predicted robots could one day be used as companions for people living with dementia.
I am in two minds about this; on the one hand, are we just letting the robot take care of granny off in a corner? Or are we providing granny (at least some of the time) with a tireless and responsive companion who will keep her somewhat stimulated as she fights through a terrible affliction?