The recent lunch debate on Health and Wellbeing explored future scenarios for old age, medicine, care and the human body, asking what sort of future should we be preparing our young people for? Robots and Avatars brought together a range of experts including Professor Raymond Tallis (Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester) and Professor Kevin Warwick (Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University) to discuss and debate the issue.
As part of the debate participants visioned care being administered by and through robots and avatars, the development of implants that would alter the way the brain works in order to cure many common diseases, a greater life expectancy with a shorter period of ‘woe’ towards the end of peoples lives and the possibility of self diagnosis and treatment as a result of advances in medical technology.
Central to the debate were questions around the representation of humans in care scenarios. Some participants resolutely argued that there can be no replacement for human to human care, emphaising the importance of empathy in care. Others were keen to emphasise the relatively low uptake of new technologies such as telecare and mobile apps which help patients self-diagnose. Whilst participants’ personal trepidations about their own old age entered into the debate, it was also emphasized that a future of health and wellbeing where robots and avatars play an increasingly important role, is very unlikely to completely replace the human to human contact but instead would most likely serve to augment it. This area of the debate touched on many of the issues that Robots and Avatars has been exploring over the course of the Lunch Debate Series including the credibility of artificial intelligence, the need to address illusion within representational forms and thinking about the ways in which we adopt new technologies.
Another key area of the debate focused around increased life expectancy, new ways of thinking about ‘old age’ and how we might go about changing perceptions now? According to ‘most attractive model’ for the future of ageing put forward by Professor Raymond Tallis, today’s young people are expected to live longer and have better health for longer, significantly affecting the way the population ages. As such, it is clear that we will have to develop new ways of thinking about not just old age but age more generally. It’s interesting to note that the word ‘teenager’ originated in the early 20th Century and has given rise to a complex set of ideas that strongly inform the ways we relate to, provide for and deal with 13-19 year olds, now it is time for teenagers to start thinking about what they want to be called when they are fit and healthy and in their 80′s – and still with another 20 years to live.
We will be sharing video content from the Health and Wellbeing soon. To see video and reports from previous debates click here.
Between June and October 2010, Robots and Avatars are hosting a series of Lunch Debates which bring together a diverse and specialised group of professionals and experts to deepen the research and conversation around Robots and Avatars and ask ‘What sort of world are we educating our young people for?’ The Lunch Debates help focus the overall theme of the programme into a series of specific areas, which include:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Behaviours and Ethics
- Health and Wellbeing
- Future Workplaces
Content from these debates will be shared shortly after each event on this site and will include video and writing.
Artificial Intelligence – its evolution in Robots and Avatars – this will be a highly topical debate on the illusions and realisms of intelligence and cognition, free will and stand alone decisions by human agents such as robots and avatars, blended robots/avatars (robotars), M2M interfaces and communication developments of all types.
It will envision the involvement of a mix of robots, avatars, tele-presence and real time presence in the work place and examine the consequences of AI into future team space.
Provocateur – Professor Noel Sharkey BA PhD FIET, FBCS CITP FRIN FRSA – Professor of AI and Robotics / Professor of Public Engagement at University of Sheffield (Department Computer Science) Project Champion for Robots and Avatars.
Moderators – Ghislaine Boddington (Creative Director, body>data>space) and Benedict Arora (Programme Director Education, NESTA)