Why robots in care could solve many pressing problems | Sunday paper


Whether steam locomotives, computers or self-propelled e-cars – technical inventions have drastically changed our lives within just a few centuries. Then as now, there was always vehement criticism of innovations such as the steam locomotive.

According to a 19th-century pastor, the “smoking monster” springs straight out of hell. The locomotive, which rushes past at 60 km/h, is also to be classified as very questionable, as watching it could twist your neck or dislocate your cervical vertebrae.

Unfortunately, it is rare that innovations have turned people’s heads in a positive sense. The foreign was and is suspect to many citizens and new things from science and technology have to go a long, arduous way, especially in the eyes of theologians, in order to be approved.

Robots in care: a lot of criticism

The use of robots in care has recently been discussed. Church representatives and ethicists usually urge caution or criticize the proposal. According to Arne Manzeschke, professor of anthropology and ethics for healthcare professionals, a robot cannot replace a human nurse because it cannot see how patients are doing. In addition, he would not be able to help if an elderly person choked.

Many people have an image of technology that doesn’t work, is inadequate or faulty. Anyone who has ever yelled at a device because Alexa, Siri and Co called “Marvin” instead of “Martin” or suggested a “diet” instead of a “date” would confirm the impression.

Computers and robots are learning

But computers can learn independently. Raymond Kurzweil, American author and chief technology officer at Google, predicts that computers will match the intelligence of humans by 2030. Other futurologists predict that in a few decades the artificial intelligence of computing systems will even exceed the intelligence of humans.

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In a direct comparison between humans and computers, it can already be seen that we are increasingly losing out. Studies on autonomous driving make it clear that accidents are demonstrably less likely to be caused by “robo-cars” than by human drivers.

This becomes relevant in nursing when examinations are carried out, medication or infusions are given. Again, humans make more mistakes than robots. A robot that keeps an eye on the pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and facial expression of its counterpart will recognize exactly how they are doing and can offer or request help.

Robots don’t mind smells or overtime

In addition: When people become in need of care, it marks a major turning point in the lives of those affected. One’s own independence and self-determination are restricted and feelings of dependency and being at the mercy dominate. Not being able to wash yourself or go to the toilet on your own is often perceived as shameful by those in need of care.

The problem could be circumvented if those affected were cared for by a care robot instead of a real person. Not only could the need to protect one’s own private and intimate sphere be taken into account, but the feeling of being a burden would also become less important. After all, what does a robot care about smells, overtime or too much contact with a human?

Technology can make life more human

One argument that is primarily used against the use of technology is precisely this lack of contact between robots. According to Manzeschke, a person in need of care needs holistic care that takes care of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the person. I absolutely agree.

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However, it is a mistake to believe that holistic care can be implemented by nursing staff so far. Due to the lack of skilled workers, high administrative burden and demographic change, the human being as a subject is already neglected today, both on the side of the carers and the people receiving care.

According to the futurologist Seven Gabor Jánszky, technology makes life more human for this very reason. The increased use of technology can relieve a lot of work and improve quality of life.

What makes us human

So why don’t we let the robots do the tasks that they do more reliably and error-free? And in the time saved, we focus on the areas that define us as people: our ability to…

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