Help my mother is getting married to her Carebot!
future research / speculative / story-telling / film / art direction
Robots are increasingly becoming more ‘emotional’. Companies such as Softbank and Apple are heavily investing in the development of emotionally intelligent agents that can both recognise our emotions, and display a simulation of an appropriate emotion.
There will be likely to have little to no regulation on the use of emotions in robotic products.
This is against the backdrop of a growing ageing population and what some are calling an epidemic of loneliness. It is projected that by 2039, one in 12 will over the age of 80 in the UK, and by 2046 almost a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65. This is predicted to cause a large strain on health and social care, with public spending unable to keep up. Because of this, private companies may very well increase their presence in this area.
‘Help, my mother is getting married to her care robot’ is a story about an elderly woman, Claire in 2045. Lonely and needing care, she creates an intense emotional bond with her robot Tonii, to the point she decides to marry it. After her death, Tonii’s robotics company uses their case as a promotional material, displaying Tonii to the public to show his ‘grief’.
This work explores the encroachment of capitalism and technological solutionism into an area such as loneliness and care. If we give the role of looking after our elderly and our sick to a machine, does that mean that we absolving our responsibility? What will it do to us as a society if we start to prefer the company of stable loving machines, (who has no will other than what you programmed into it) over other humans (who can be difficult, unpredictable and has the inconvenience of having their own desires)?
First part of MA Material Futures final research project exploring the
relationships between social robots and us.
Tonii Prototype. Animatronic head powered by arduino, capable of displaying emotions
A ‘humanised’ robot head, an example of how easily a machine gains a certain charm through simple personalisation.