No Solution to the Nursing Crisis

“In Germany, around four million people will be dependent on care and nursing in 2030. Already today there is talk of a nursing crisis, which is likely to intensify further in view of demographic developments in the coming years. Fewer and fewer young people will be available to the labour market as potential carers for the elderly. Experts estimate that there will be a shortage of around half a million nursing staff in Germany by 2030. Given these dramatic forecasts, are nursing robots possibly the solution to the problem? Scientists from the disciplines of computer science, robotics, medicine, nursing science, social psychology, and philosophy explored this question at a Berlin conference of the Daimler and Benz Foundation. The machine ethicist and conference leader Professor Oliver Bendel first of all stated that many people had completely wrong ideas about care robots: ‘In the media there are often pictures or illustrations that do not correspond to reality’.” (Die Welt, 14 June 2019) With these words an article in the German newspaper Die Welt begins. Norbert Lossau describes the Berlin Colloquium, which took place on 22 May 2019, in detail. The article is available in English and German. So are robots a solution to the nursing crisis? Oliver Bendel denies this. They can be useful for the caregiver and the patient. But they don’t solve the big problems.

AI Award for the Social Good

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and Squirrel AI Learning announced the establishment of a new one million dollars annual award for societal benefits of AI. According to a press release of the AAAI, the award will be sponsored by Squirrel AI Learning as part of its mission to promote the use of artificial intelligence with lasting positive effects for society. “This new international award will recognize significant contributions in the field of artificial intelligence with profound societal impact that have generated otherwise unattainable value for humanity. The award nomination and selection process will be designed by a committee led by AAAI that will include representatives from international organizations with relevant expertise that will be designated by Squirrel AI Learning.” (AAAI Press Release, 28 May 2019) The AAAI Spring Symposia have repeatedly devoted themselves to social good, also from the perspective of machine ethics. Further information via aaai.org/Pressroom/Releases//release-19-0528.php.

How to Treat Animals

Parallel to his work in machine ethics, Oliver Bendel is trying to establish animal-machine interaction (AMI) as a discipline. He was very impressed by Clara Mancini’s paper “Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI): A Manifesto” on animal-computer interaction. In his AMI research, he mainly investigates robots, gadgets, and devices and their behavior towards animals. There are not only moral questions, but also questions concerning the design of outer appearance and the ability to speak. The general background for his considerations is that more and more machines and animals meet in closed, half-open and open worlds. He believes that semi-autonomous and autonomous systems should have rules so that they treat animals well. They should not disturb, frighten, injure or kill them. Examples are toy robots, domestic robots, service robots in shopping malls and agricultural robots. Jackie Snow, who writes for New York Times, National Geographic, and Wall Street Journal, has talked to several experts about the topic. In an article for Fast Company, she quotes the ethicists Oliver Bendel and Peter Singer. Clara Mancini is also expressing her point of view. The article with the title “AI’s next ethical challenge: how to treat animals” can be downloaded here.

Hologram Girl

The article “Hologram Girl” by Oliver Bendel deals first of all with the current and future technical possibilities of projecting three-dimensional human shapes into space or into vessels. Then examples for holograms from literature and film are mentioned, from the fictionality of past and present. Furthermore, the reality of the present and the future of holograms is included, i.e. what technicians and scientists all over the world are trying to achieve, in eager efforts to close the enormous gap between the imagined and the actual. A very specific aspect is of interest here, namely the idea that holograms serve us as objects of desire, that they step alongside love dolls and sex robots and support us in some way. Different aspects of fictional and real holograms are analyzed, namely pictoriality, corporeality, motion, size, beauty and speech capacity. There are indications that three-dimensional human shapes could be considered as partners, albeit in a very specific sense. The genuine advantages and disadvantages need to be investigated further, and a theory of holograms in love could be developed. The article is part of the book “AI Love You” by Yuefang Zhou and Martin H. Fischer and was published on 18 July 2019. Further information can be found via link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-19734-6.

About Robophilosophy

Robophilosophy or robot philosophy is a field of philosophy that deals with robots (hardware and software robots) as well as with enhancement options such as artificial intelligence. It is not only about the reality and history of development, but also the history of ideas, starting with the works of Homer and Ovid up to science fiction books and movies. Disciplines such as epistemology, ontology, aesthetics and ethics, including information and machine ethics, are involved. The website robophilosophy.com or robophilosophy.net is operated by Oliver Bendel, a robot philosopher who lives and works in Switzerland. Guest contributions are welcome. They should be exclusively scientific and should not advertise for companies.