Next Seminar in the ‘International Conversations in Ageing and Technology’ series: Social Robots for Health and Well-being in Ageing Societies

Social robots providing physical and cognitive assistance, and social and emotional companionship have rapidly become one of the most paradigmatic applications to solve health care challenges in ageing societies. A correspondingly large field of funding programs, projects, companies and scientists aim to develop autonomous machines, ranging from surgery robots and rehabilitation robots to companionship robots, to collaborate with humans in various caregiving tasks. In the wake of this boom, questions and critiques are being formulated in diverse communities about the legitimacy, conditions, and consequences of social robots for older adults’ and their caregivers’ health and well-being, including working conditions and caregiving relationships.

This workshop raises the question of a critical paradigm for research and development of social robots for health and well-being in ageing societies. The aim is to shift a focus from technological interventions to the impacts and consequences of social robots on older adults’ and their caregivers’ health and well-being. The workshop brings perspectives from HRI, STS, Age Studies, and neighbouring fields into conversation to develop aspects of an agenda for more reflective, holistic and appropriate development of social robots for older adults in ageing societies.

Date: 9 November

Time: CET 4.30 – 6.30pm, BST 3.30 – 5.30pm

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4.30 – 4.40: Welcome

4.40 – 4.45: Socio-Gerontechnology Network on Robots in Care

4.45 – 4.55: Laurel Riek

4.55 – 5.00: Collecting Feedback on Concept board

5:00 – 5.10: Hee Rin Lee

5:10 – 5:15: Collecting Feedback on Concept board

5:15 – 5:25: Sara Ljungblad: “Critical robotics: Between robot fictions and design realities”

5:25 – 5:30 Collecting Feedback on Concept board

5:30 – 5:40: Stephen Oram: Reading “Eating Robot”

5:40 – 5:45: Collecting Feedback on Concept board

5:45 – 5:55: Break

5:55 – 6:10: Break out rooms with the 4 contributors

6:10 – 6:30: Joint discussion: Social robots in later life – towards future agenda?

Speaker Details:

Dr. Laurel Riek is a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego, and also has appointments in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Contextual Robotics Institute. She directs the Healthcare Robotics Lab, and is a roboticist with interests in human-robot teaming, computer vision, and healthcare engineering, and focuses on building systems able to sense, learn from, and adapt to people. Riek’s current research projects have applications in acute care, neurorehabilitation, and home health. The lab is also very interested in supporting health equity through communtiy health efforts.

Dr. Hee Rin Lee is a researcher in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). Her work addresses problems beyond the efficiency and functionality that are often prioritized in the advancement of robotics. She designs and evaluates robots for social good with the aim of empowering socially marginalized groups, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and older adults. Her work aims at strengthening the autonomy of marginalized people in society to bring about positive social change. Her research has yielded best paper nominations at the premier Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) conferences including HRI, UbiComp, CSCW, and CHI.

Dr. Sara Ljungblad isa professor at the Interaction Design division at the joint department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. Ljungblad’s research focuses on human-centred design and design skills in the area of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) and in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). She was a WP leader 2010 in the EU project Living with robots and interactive companions (LIREC, 2007-2011) and worked in the Embodied communicating agents project (ECAGENTS, 2004-2007). Her research has concerned the development of design methods, and studies of people’s experiences of robotic products, such robotic toys, robotic eating aids, a transport robot at a hospital, and a social robot at school. Ljungblad edited the Special Issue “Critical Robotics” in the AI&Society journal in 2021.

Stephen Oram writes near-future science fiction. He is published in several anthologies, has two published novels and two collections of sci-fi shorts. He also works with artists, scientists and technologists on projects that explore possible future outcomes of their research through short stories. He is a founding curator for near-future fiction at Virtual Futures, a writer for prototypers SciFutures and a member of the Clockhouse London Writers. His work has been praised by publications as diverse as The Morning Star and The Financial Times.