Robot-assisted ‘smart homes’ and AI: the boundary between supportive and intrusive?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Robot-Belgique-1.png” thumb_width=”200″ /]Something that has been bothersome to Deep Thinkers (and Not Such Deep Thinkers like this Editor) is the almost-forced loss of control inherent in discussion of AI-powered technology. There is a elitist Wagging of Fingers that generally accompanies the Inevitable Questions and Qualms.

  • If you don’t think 100 percent self-driving cars are an Unalloyed Wonder, like Elon Musk and Google tells you, you’re a Luddite
  • If you have concerns about nanny tech or smart homes which can spy on you, you’re paranoid
  • If you are concerned that robots will take the ‘social’ out of ‘social care’, likely replace human carers for people, or lose your neighbor their job, you are not with the program

I have likely led with the reason why: loss of control. Control does not motivate just Control Freaks. Think about the decisions you like versus the ones you don’t. Think about how helpless you felt as a child or teenager when big decisions were made without any of your input. It goes that deep.

In the smart home, robotic/AI world then, who has the control? Someone unknown, faceless, well meaning but with their own rationale? (Yes, those metrics–quality, cost, savings) Recall ‘Uninvited Guests’, the video which demonstrated that Dad Ain’t Gonna Take Nannying and is good at sabotage.

Let’s stop and consider: what are we doing? Where are we going? What fills the need for assistance and care, yet retains that person’s human autonomy and that old term…dignity? Maybe they might even like it? For your consideration:

How a robot could be grandma’s new carer (plastic dogs to the contrary in The Guardian)

AI Is Not out to Get Us (Scientific American)

Hat tip on both to reader Malcolm Fisk, Senior Research Fellow (CCSR) at De Montfort University via LinkedIn

Stop the Internet of Things Monster!

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/robottoy-1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]A cry from the heart (or aching head) indeed! The overhyped, overheated and overblown Internet of Things (IoT) gets a good and deserved lampooning from tech writer Joanna Stern. If you take seriously a egg tray that tells you when the hen ova are getting few or old, an umbrella that signals you when it’s left home, a connected toilet seat and a juicer that only works when it’s on Wi-Fi, you’ll think the writer is a Luddite. But if you think 95 percent of IoT is ridiculous (save a Few Good Apps) and Overload Reigns in Solving Problems Which Aren’t, you’ll enjoy The Internet of Every Single Thing Must Be Stopped (Wall Street Journal). (Ms Stern would be undoubtedly appreciative of the ‘‘Uninvited Guests’ that nag and spy. And she doesn’t even get into the hackable dangers of Interconnected Everything.)

Is digital health going to add to Digital Big Brother Watching You?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Doctor-Big-Brother.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]“They’re watching me on my phone. They’re watching me on Facebook. They’re even watching me when I want to hide. Machines are a form of intelligence, and they’re being built into everything.”–Dr Zeynep Tufekci

The world of digital health is largely based on tracking–via smartphones, wearables, watches–and analytics taking and modeling All That Data we generate. Are we in compliance with our meds? Are we exercising enough? How’s our A1c trending? Drinking our water? All this monitoring–online and offline–is increasingly of concern to Deep Thinkers like Dr Tufekci, a reformed computer programmer, now University of North Carolina assistant professor and self-proclaimed “techno-sociologist.” At IdeaFestival 2015, she took particular aim at Facebook (surprisingly, not at Google) for knowing a tremendous amount about us by our behavior, of course using it to anticipate and sell us on what we might want. The ethics of machine learning are still hazy and machines are prone to error, different than human error, and we haven’t accounted for machine error in our systems yet. Like that big health data that mistakes a daughter for her mother and drops critical health information from a patient’s EHR [TTA 29 Sep]. A thought-provoker to kick off your week. TechRepublic 

Related: The Gimlet Eye took a squint at Big Brother Gathering and Monetizing Your Big Blinking Data–data mining, privacy and employer wellness programs–back in 2013, which means the Eye and Dr Tufekci should get together for coffee, smartphones off of course. While Glass is gone, the revolt against relentless monitoring is well-dramatized in the well-watched video, ‘Uninvited Guests’. And we can get equally scared about AI–artificial intelligence–like Steve Wozniak. 

A Tuesday Must Read: “Confessions of a non-compliant patient”

Carolyn Thomas is the ‘Heart Sister’ of the eponymous blog, and has been a guest columnist and commenter in these pages. Via Twitter she brought to her followers’ attention this back posting which chronicles how a person who normally copes with a chronic disease can be absolutely kicked in the kishkes* when a few other physical troubles are added to the pile. Alone, they could be coped with; aggregated and on top of difficulty functioning, they make for Misery. And Misery makes for Non-Compliance. And Non-Adherence. And the Burden of Treatment gets ever heavier, and the frustration of both patient and doctor (pressed to quantify and meet goals) ever grows.

If you are designing technology around compliance, don’t be surprised if many of the people you could benefit treat it like measles if it’s not positioned right or is thinly disguised Nanny Tech. (See ‘Uninvited Guests‘)

Editor Donna will let Ms Thomas take it from here.

Related reading: Is how we are treating patients for chronic diseases (and pre-diseases) all wrong?

*Kishkes (New York Yiddish, antique) = guts.

‘Uninvited Guests’

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SmartFork3-small-Superflux.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Wonder what it would be like to be older and ‘nannied’ by some of the ‘whiz-bang’ devices we promote as making life healthier and better? This short (4 minute) video dramatizes how a 70 year old man deals with the smartphone-connected devices–a food-monitoring fork, activity-tracking cane, pill dispenser and sleep monitor–his well-meaning children have provided to nag and monitor Dad at a distance. Dad dispenses with these annoying ‘uninvited guests’ in his own clever way. Produced by the UK/India-based design consultancy Superflux Lab for the ThingTank project, which explores the conflicts and frictions these IoT tools in the connected home can produce with humans. On Vimeo. Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury via Twitter.