Transcript: Are Robots the Future of Dementia Care? | Nov 06, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, spotted gray tie and a red poppy pin.

A caption on screen reads "Are robots the future of dementia care? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WE LOOK TO TECHNOLOGY
TO SOLVE ALL MANNER OF PROBLEMS
THESE DAYS.
AND AS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
AND ROBOTICS MAKE SIGNIFICANT
LEAPS, WORK IS UNDERWAY TO SEE
HOW SUCH FIELDS COULD HELP IN
CARING FOR THE GROWING ELDERLY
POPULATION, PARTICULARLY THOSE
WITH COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT.
DR. GOLDIE NEJAT IS CANADA
RESEARCH CHAIR IN ROBOTS FOR
SOCIETY, THE FOUNDER AND
DIRECTOR OF THE U OF T's
INSTITUTE FOR ROBOTICS AND
MECHATRONICS, AND SHE JOINS US
NOW FOR A GLIMPSE INTO THE
FUTURE.

Goldie is in her late thirties, with long curly blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer over a black blouse, and a red poppy pin.

Steve continues NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

Goldie says THANK YOU
FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says I DON'T NECESSARILY
THINK PEOPLE THINK OF ROBOTS AND
ROBOTICS HELPING IN THE ISSUE OF
COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT, SO YOU MAY
HAVE TO HELP US THROUGH THIS.
HOW DOES THAT EXACTLY WORK?

The caption changes to "Goldie Nejat. University of Toronto."
Then, it changes again to "Assisted by A.I."

Goldie says THERE'S A GROUP OF ROBOTS
CALLED SOCIALLY ASSISTIVE
ROBOTS.
WE DEVELOPED THESE FOR PEOPLE
LIVING WITH DEMENTIA TO PERFORM
ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING,
ANYTHING FROM WAKING UP IN THE
MORNING, BRUSHING YOUR TEETH,
PREPARING A MEAL...

Steve says HANG ON.
A ROBOT CAN HELP YOU BRUSH YOUR
TEETH?

Goldie says THEY CAN PROMPT YOU THROUGH
THE STEPS IN CASE YOU FORGET OR
IF YOU FORGOT THE ACTIVITY ON
ITS OWN, AND IF YOU FORGET ANY
OF THE STEPS, LIKE PUTTING
TOOTHPASTE ON YOUR TOOTHBRUSH,
THEY CAN HELP YOU REMEMBER TO DO
THAT.
ALL THE STEPS THAT ARE NEEDED TO
DO THOSE ACTIVITIES, TO PROMOTE
INDEPENDENCE AND QUALITY OF
LIFE.

Steve says FASCINATING.
WELL, WE HAVE SOME VIDEO HERE OF
AN EXAMPLE OF THAT WHICH YOU'VE
JUST DESCRIBED.

Goldie says GREAT.

Steve says SIDNEY, YOU'RE
SITTING IN FOR SHELDON TODAY.
LET'S ROLL IT, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen. In the clip, a man in his thirties sits on a couch in a small living room and faces a robot. The robot is white, with an upright body, a dummy head and two arms.

The robot says LET'S GO TO PREPARE SOMETHING TOGETHER.

In the kitchen, the robot stands with the man and says
PLEASE SELECT YOUR RECIPE.

On a tablet on the robot's chest, the man presses on "Tuna sandwich."

The robot says AND THE BREAD.
I WOULD BE HAPPY TO SHOW YOU
WHERE IT IS.

The man taps on "2 slices of bread."

The robot spins around, points at a cabinet and says
PLEASE check in there.

In another room, a robot wearing a blue T-shirt says
PLEASE HAVE SOME WATER.
THAT IS IT ON YOUR TRAY.

It points at a glass of water in a tray.

Now a young man sits at a desk where a small humanoid robot stands.

The man says I PLAN TO GO OUTDOOR WALKING.

The robot peers at the man and says GIVE ME ONE MOMENT TO COME UP
WITH a recommended outfit.
Okay, HERE IS YOUR RECOMMENDATION FOR THE DAY.
I recommend you wear your gray hoodie, your navy jeans, your black windbreaker and your white sneakers.

The clip ends.

Steve says I'VE GOT TO ASK YOU
THIS, OKAY?
CALL ME A LITTLE SKEPTICAL ON
THIS.
THAT'S OBVIOUSLY... THAT'S A
VERY HEALTHY YOUNG MAN WHO IS
BEING ADVISED TO DO ALL OF THOSE
THINGS.
SO, OF COURSE, HE UNDERSTANDS
ALL OF THE COMMANDS THAT ARE
COMING OUT OF THE ROBOT.

Goldie says RIGHT.

Steve says CAN IT STILL WORK
WITH SOMEBODY WHO IS COGNITIVELY
IMPAIRED?

Goldie says YES, DEFINITELY.
WE'VE DONE A LOT OF PILOT
STUDIES WITH OLDER ADULTS LIVING
AT HOME BY THEMSELVES OR IN
LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES.
THE SAME ACTIVITIES THAT YOU SEE
THERE, WE'VE ACTUALLY HAD THE
ROBOT PROMPT THEM THROUGH MEAL
EATING AND PREPARATION AS WELL
AS DRESSING.

Steve says AND IT ALL WORKS.

Goldie says THE ROBOT GIVES YOU EVERY
SINGLE STEP.
WITH OUR FIRST ROBOT, YOU CAN
ALSO SEE THE VIDEOS OF EACH OF
THE STEPS AS WELL.

Steve says DOES THAT WORK
BETTER THAN JUST HAVING A LIST
IN YOUR HAND OF STEPS TO FOLLOW?

Goldie says YEAH, IT HELPS BECAUSE
THERE'S THE VERBAL CONTENT, THE
ROBOT IS TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO,
AND THE VISUAL INFORMATION.
SO YOU CAN SEE HOW TO DO THE
STEP ALTOGETHER.

Steve says ROBOTS CAN WORK
BINGO GAMES; IS THAT RIGHT?

Goldie says WE HAVE OUR ROBOTS, FOR
EXAMPLE, TANGI, WHO CAN
FACILITATE BINGO GAMES.
THE IDEA IS TO PROMOTE SOCIAL
INTERACTION WITH THE PLAYERS AS
WELL AND COGNITIVE STIMULATION
BY PLAYING THESE GAMES, IT
PROMOTES MOTOR SKILLS AS WELL AS
MEMORY.

Steve says WHAT ELSE DO YOU
HOPE TO TEACH ROBOTS TO DO?

Goldie says EVERYTHING THAT WE CAN HELP
AN INDIVIDUAL TO LIVE AT HOME
INDEPENDENTLY.
SO ANY ACTIVITY OF DAILY LIVING.
WE'RE DOING GROCERY SHOPPING AS
WELL, ASSISTANT THERE.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU... WHAT
HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT HUMANS AS
YOU HAVE BEEN DESIGNING ROBOTS
TO WORK WITH HUMANS?

Goldie says OH, IT'S SO FASCINATING.
WE'VE LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT
HUMANS.
WE LEARN ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOUR.
HUMAN COMMUNICATION.
ALL THAT NON-VERBAL
COMMUNICATION THAT WE HAVE WHEN
YOU AND I ARE TALKING.
YOUR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, BODY
LANGUAGE.
THAT HELPS THE ROBOTS TO
ACTUALLY LEARN HOW TO
PERSONALIZE THEIR CARE FOR
INDIVIDUALS AS WELL.

Steve says BUT I DON'T... AT
LEAST I HOPE I'M NOT GOING TO
BEHAVE DURING THIS INTERVIEW IN
A WAY THAT WOULD SEEM
UNPREDICTABLE TO YOU.
AND PEOPLE OF COURSE WITH
DEMENTIA CAN BEHAVE VERY
UNPREDICTABLY.
HOW IS THE ROBOT PROGRAMMED TO
DEAL WITH THAT?

Goldie says THE ROBOTS HAVE LEARNING
ALGORITHMS.
THEY LEARN HOW TO BEHAVE BASED
ON THE PERSON'S OWN BEHAVIOUR.
THE ROBOT LEARNS HOW DO I SAY
SOMETHING OR PROMPT YOU TO DO
SOMETHING SO THAT YOU WILL DO
IT.
THAT'S DONE WITH ITS OWN VERBAL
AS WELL AS NON-VERBAL, SO THE
ROBOTS USE GESTURES AND FACIAL
SUGGESTIONS AND EVEN VOCAL
INTONATION, TO HELP PROMOTE
THAT.

Steve says DO STAFF HAVE A ROLE
TO PLAY IN ALL OF THIS AS WELL?

Goldie says OH, YES.
THEY'RE VERY IMPORTANT IN TERMS
OF BRINGING OUR ROBOTS TO HELP
OLDER ADULTS.
WE DO FOCUS GROUPS WITH STAFF TO
GET INPUT ON WHAT THEY THINK ARE
THE SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES THAT THE
ROBOTS CAN HELP WITH, AND WE
FOCUS ON BURDEN OF CARE.
WE LIKE TO HELP THE ROBOTS BE
INTEGRATED IN THE SENSE THAT WE
CAN HELP THE CARE-GIVERS, RIGHT,
TO MINIMIZE THEIR BURDEN OF
CARE.
THEY CAN FOCUS ON THE HIGH-LEVEL
INTERACTIONS WITH RESIDENTS AND
THE ROBOTS CAN DO THE REPETITIVE
INTERACTIONS.

Steve says I WANT TO READ FROM
ETHICS AND INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY.
I GUESS ALL OF THIS DOES RAISE
SOME ETHICAL CONCERNS, AND
HERE'S A SNIPPET FROM A RESEARCH
PAPER OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
SHEFFIELD THAT EXAMINES SOME OF
THEM. SO HERE WE GO...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Ethical issues in robot care for the elderly." The quote reads "It is not the use of robots in elder care per se that should concern us, but the ways in which they are used... These issues need to be considered before deploying robot technology fully in eldercare: Opportunities for human social contact could be reduced, and elderly people could be more neglected by society and their families than before.
The insensitive use of robots developed for the convenience of carers, and the consequent increase in elderly people's feelings of objectification, and loss of control."
Quoted from Amanda Jane Sharkey, Ethics and information technology. 2010.

Steve says YOU'VE THOUGHT ABOUT
THESE ISSUES, OBVIOUSLY.
WHAT CONCLUSIONS DO YOU COME TO?

The caption changes to "Retaining the human touch."

Goldie says I THINK WE HAVE TO LOOK AT IT
THIS WAY.
YOU KNOW, WE HAVE AN ELDERLY
POPULATION THAT'S GROWING AND WE
NEED PEOPLE TO CARE FOR THEM.
AND WE WANT THE CARE-GIVERS TO
DO THE HIGH-LEVEL TASKS, SOCIAL
INTERACTIONS, AND SPEND THOSE
PERSONALIZED INTERACTIONS WITH
PEOPLE AND THE ROBOTS CAN HELP
WITH THE REPETITIVE TASKS.
FOR EXAMPLE, MEAL-EATING.
THERE'S A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS
WHO CAN EAT ON THEIR OWN.
THERE'S ONE THAT NEEDS
PROMPTING, THEY FORGET THE STEPS
OR THEY'RE DISTRACTED.
THE ROBOTS CAN TARGET THAT
MIDDLE GROUP, THE REPETITION OF
PLEASE PICK UP YOUR FORK AND SO
ON AND THEY CAN DO THAT WITH A
SMILE ON THEIR FACE AND HAVE
CARE-GIVERS DO THE HIGH-LEVEL
MATTERS.

Steve says ROBOTS AREN'T THERE
YET.

Goldie says WE WANT CARE-GIVERS TO
CONTINUE DOING THAT.
YOU HAVE TO LOOK FROM THE OTHER
SIDE, PEOPLE THAT DON'T HAVE
CARE-GIVERS, THAT DON'T HAVE
FAMILY MEMBERS OR FORMAL
CARE-GIVERS TAKING CARE OF THEM.
HOW DO WE HELP DEVELOP
TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST THEM?

Steve says ARE YOU ABLE TO SAY
WHAT THE PRIME MISSION HERE IS?
FOR EXAMPLE, IS IT TO HELP THE
ELDERLY POPULATION OR IS IT MORE
SO TO HELP CARE-GIVERS WHO ARE
SO BURDENED AND OVERWORKED AND
SO ON?

Goldie says IT'S A COMBINATION OF BOTH.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HELP OLDER
ADULTS.
WE WANT THEM TO AGE IN PLACE.
WE WANT TO IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S
QUALITY OF LIFE.
WE CAN DO THAT WITH RESIDENTS OR
OLDER ADULTS LIVING AT HOME, AND
THEIR CARE-GIVERS, WHETHER
FORMAL OR INFORMAL.

Steve says HOW DO STAFF IN
LONG-TERM CARE HOMES FEEL ABOUT
THIS?

Goldie says SO THEY'VE BEEN REALLY
RECEPTIVE OF THE ROBOTS.
THEY ARE THE ONES DOING THESE
TASKS DAY IN AND DAY OUT.
THEY CAN TELL US WHAT THEY NEED
ASSISTANCE WITH TO MINIMIZE THAT
BURDEN.
THERE'S A LOT OF PHYSICAL AND
EMOTIONAL BURDEN ON THEM AND WE
WANT TO HELP WITH THAT.
SO THEY ENJOY DOING THEIR TASKS
AND SPEND THEIR TIME DOING THE
ONE-ON-ONE QUALITY CARE WITH
RESIDENTS.

Steve says THAT HAS
TRADITIONALLY BEEN THEIR WORK.
IS THERE ANY INDICATION THAT
THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT BEING
AUTOMATED OUT OF EXISTENCE HERE?

Goldie says NO.
I THINK ONCE THEY SEE THE
ROBOTS, WE DO A LOT OF FOCUS
GROUPS EARLY WHEN WE INTRODUCE
THE ROBOTS.
THEY SEE THE CAPABILITIES.
THEY DON'T HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT
WHAT THE ROBOTS CAN DO AND WHAT
THEY ACTUALLY DO.
THEY PROVIDE THE ONE-ON-ONE
PERSONALIZED CARE.

Steve says NOW, SO FAR, AT
LEAST TO THE BEST OF MY
KNOWLEDGE, NOBODY HAS MANAGED TO
COME UP WITH A ROBOT THAT CAN
EXPRESS THE KIND OF COMPASSION
AND EMPATHY THAT A REAL LIVE
HUMAN BEING WHO WAS ASSISTING
SOMEBODY WITH DEMENTIA WOULD
FACE.
BUT I BET THAT'S COMING.
IS IT?

The caption changes to "Goldie Nejat, @IRM_UToronto."

Goldie says SO THERE'S A LOT OF WORK IN
ROBOTS BEING ABLE TO LEARN,
RIGHT, AND BEING ABLE TO LEARN
YOUR BEHAVIOUR AND THEN
REPLICATE THAT BEHAVIOUR IN
ORDER TO SHOW, YOU KNOW,
COMPASSION OR EMPATHY AND
PATIENCE AND TRY TO HELP
MINIMIZE ANXIETY AND STRESS, AND
SO THAT'S DONE FROM WHAT I WAS
MENTIONING BEFORE, ALL THAT
NON-VERBAL INFORMATION THAT WE,
WHEN WE'RE INTERACTING, DISPLAY.
THE ROBOTS LEARN THOSE AND TRY
TO LEARN THAT INFORMATION TO
THEIR ADVANTAGE TO PERSONALIZE
THEIR BEHAVIOURS.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says NOW, THIS IS STILL
PRETTY EXTRAORDINARY, RIGHT?
YOU DON'T SEE ROBOTS IN THE
HOMES OF LOTS OF PEOPLE WITH
DEMENTIA AT THIS POINT.

The caption changes to "Robotics tech boom ETA."

Goldie says NOT YET.
I MEAN, IT'S A GREAT TIME RIGHT
NOW.
IT'S A VERY EMERGING TECHNOLOGY.
WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR
ABOUT 13 YEARS OR SO BUT WE'RE
NOT VERY FAR AWAY FROM SEEING
THOSE ROBOTS HELPING PEOPLE.

Steve says SIDNEY, WHY DON'T
YOU BRING UP THIS VIDEO RIGHT
NOW?
WE'VE GOT SOME SHOTS FROM THE
LAB AND MAYBE YOU COULD TALK
OVER THESE AND SORT OF TELL US
WHAT'S BEING WORKED ON HERE?

A clip shows a small robot resembling a tank with continuous tracks.

Goldie says SURE.
THIS IS ACTUALLY OUR RESCUE
ROBOT.

In the clip, a white robot with a mouth and eyebrows made of light appears and waves a hand.

Goldie continues THERE'S CASPER THERE, ONE OF OUR
SOCIALLY ASSISTIVE ROBOTS.
THESE ARE THE GESTURES YOU SAW.
THESE ARE THE PLATFORMS WE'VE
BEEN DEVELOPING WITH OUR
INDUSTRIAL COLLABORATORS.

Now a metal robot appears with hands resembling digger claws.

Goldie continues THAT'S Tangi, THE BINGO ASSISTING
ROBOT.
THEY LOOK LIKE ROBOTS.
THAT'S DONE ON PURPOSE.
THEY'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE
HUMANS, THEY'RE ROBOTS.
THEY HAVE VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL
COMMUNICATION SO IT'S EASIER FOR
ADULTS TO UNDERSTAND THE INTENT
OF THE ROBOTS.
NO LEARNING CURVE NEEDED.

Steve says HOW FAR ARE WE FROM
HAVING A ROBOT IN EVERY HOME
THAT NEEDS ONE?

Goldie says ESPECIALLY THESE ROBOTS,
WE'RE TWO TO FIVE YEARS AWAY
FROM HAVING COMMERCIALIZED
ROBOTS BEING IN OUR HOMES TO
ASSIST OLDER ADULTS.

Steve says THEY WILL RETAIL
FOR...

Goldie says THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION TOO,
NOW THAT COSTS OF A LOT OF
THINGS ARE GOING DOWN, COMPUTING
COSTS, OFF-THE-SHELF COMPONENTS,
SENSORS, WE'RE AIMING FOR 2,000
TO 5,000 dollars, AND THAT COST WILL
CONTINUE TO GO DOWN AS THE COSTS
OF THE OTHER ITEMS ARE GOING
DOWN AS WELL.

Steve says NO DOUBT DELIVERABLE
ON DRONE BY AMAZON SOME DAY AS
WELL.

Goldie says RIGHT.
I MEAN, IT'S AN EXCITING FUTURE.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says IT'S EITHER BRAVE
NEW WORLD OR EXCITING FUTURE OR
MAYBE A MIX OF BOTH.
GOLDIE NEJAT, CANADA RESEARCH
CHAIR IN ROBOTS FOR SOCIETY.
ALSO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING AT
U OF T. GREAT TO HAVE YOU AT
TVO TONIGHT.
THANKS FOR YOUR HELP ON THIS.

Goldie says THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

Watch: Are Robots the Future of Dementia Care?