Pepper, E.Chinellato, M.Singleton: Care robots are no substitute for human touch

Eris Chinellato, Lecturer in Design Engineering and Pepper the Robot, both from Middlesex University, London and Matt Singleton, Senior Business Analyst Swiss Re, discussed "Robotics and elderly care" at the Swiss Re Institute's NGIC 2017: Solutions for an ageing society conference at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue.

Find out more about the event.

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I can help older people live in their own home longer. I can help remind them to take medicine. I can fetch things for them and I can even be their friend so they don't get lonely, but ultimately I am not a human as you can tell. The human touch is so important in elder care.

Eris Chinellato: Robotics and artificial intelligence are developing very quickly, and there are many projects regarding robotics in elder care developing in the last year. As pepper said there are a number of different task that robots can perform. Helping elder people and then helping the carers of the elder people.

Mobility, general assistance, connectivity. The important points are that the robots are not meant to substitute the carers but to compliment their work so that the carers can perform the most rewarding parts of their task.

Matt Singleton: So artificial intelligence and robotics could help life insurance across the customer journey. Already we're starting to see efforts in the underwriting and actual point of sale phase. When we're talking about claims for elder care we're talking about risks in 20, maybe 30 years in the future. So there are key questions that we need to know the answer to such as, the cost of robotics and will robots actually be obsolete.

The biggest question of all for me on top of that is, does the robot actually compliment the human care or does it compete with human care? As Pepper said herself, the human touch is all important, and if a robot tries to replace the human it's probably likely to fail. Will robots rule the world?

Eris Chinellato: Well robots are improving very quickly but perhaps we are still far from there. Perhaps we should hear what Pepper thinks about that. Pepper, what do you think? Will robots rule the world?

Pepper theRobot: Shh, that's our little secret.