Bioethicist proposes robots as seniors' companions

The idea of robot companions for older adults is considered "unseemly and unthinkable," says Nancy Jecker, a professor of bioethics and humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "We're fine with robots for younger able-bodied men, but the idea of manufacturing and designing robots for older people, especially older women with disabilities – it's a demographic we really haven't marketed to."

A newly published paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics conveys Jecker's impetus to address the increasing circumstance of seniors aging alone, a concern globally but especially in Western cultures.  Not only is companionship desired by this population, but sexual fulfillment is, too, Jecker says.  Cultures, unfortunately, hold "glaringly ageist" attitudes toward the idea of sexuality in later life, and older adults who express such a desire are ridiculed or considered "dirty," she says.

See the related news release about Jecker's paper

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