Until the End of the World – Wim Wenders

The concept of recording our own thoughts or dreams into a digital format to view again and again is clearly not so far away now. But until then, what if we could upload all of our own personal digital libraries through a socially situated robot; including all our photos and videos and special music or old/live TV shows, books, reports, newspapers, blogs or even things that we have written/transcribed/said are all wi-fi accessible via a small projector within a modular robot, which can move from module to module – as required by environment – business/social/domestic/eldercare/healthcare with a simple hardware slot or even simpler still, a personalised software profile upload/download.

Functional, but even better if you could hug and stroke your robot or even derive some kind of emotional (companion species style) comfort/interaction, particularly where you are not able to have an animal companion? You could make it a cuddly module if that’s what you want at specific times throughout your life. For example, when aging, a tactile cat/monkey style robot that can follow you around your home, but is also light enough to jump up on your lap (or side table) and record reminders, write, send to printer transcribed letters/emails etc.  It provides an interface to assistive technology which purrs and likes to be stroked, but also projects (on verbal demand perhaps) your favourite photos and videos of your grandchildren, personal memories, diary events etc, concurrently providing close up, open 2-way tele-communication with health professionals, carers and family. This social/haptic style robot can be comforting when needed but useful when required, producing affects associated with nostalgia, reminiscence and comforting tactile engagement. Not sentient being, but not object, but very definitely still something more-than-human/more-than-animal……. a personal daimon robot perhaps, that interacts with the world through you, with you and for you but also provides an ethically considered but age/ability related, health/eldercare based monitoring capacity, when required?

It doesn’t replace human contact, health professionals, carers, family or even cats, these type of robots will not even displace existing technology, they will however interface, supplement, reassure and aid all of them……. perhaps there are functional, ethical spaces for social/haptic robots after all!

A little way to go yet though?

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