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The idea of developing robot companions and caregivers for the elderly is taking hold. Elderly people are often lonely and in need of companionship and social contact. Some hold that a robot could be a friend substitute and, at the same time, reassure absent families about the well-being of their elderly relative by monitoring and reporting on their health. Alzheimer's disease leaves many elderly confused so that they need help with routine activities and someone to answer their questions. It has been suggested that a robot could fulfill this role. Young children need constant care and supervision, but busy parents do not always have the time to provide it.In this article, we have probed the ethics of designing robots that promote the illusion of being able to form meaningful relationships with humans.
Date of Publication: March 2011