Shabnam FakhrHosseini Presents on Social Robots at AOTA's Momentum Summit

by Adam Felts

Shabnam FakhrHosseini attended the third annual “Momentum Summit,” held by the American Occupational Therapy Association, to discuss the AgeLab’s research on social robotics and aging in place.

Most older adults want to age in place, or remain in their current homes for as long as they can. But changes in health and functioning can threaten the ability of older people to remain independent in their homes. New home technologies, including social robots, may play a role in maintaining independence and quality of life for older adults who want to age in place. Dr. FakhrHosseini focused on social robots in her presentation.

An AgeLab study of the Lifestyle Leaders panel found that members of the “oldest old” age cohort were most likely to want to talk about health with a social robot than all other topics, suggesting the possible role of such technologies as a source of information for healthcare topics and behaviors. However, older adults’ interest in new health technologies is tempered by caution. Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation were likely to believe that the development of AI in healthcare applications – including but not limited to its use in social robots – needs to be highly regulated.

While a variety of social robots exist, the majority of them are not yet commercially available. And among those that are available to purchase, many people don’t know that they exist. These facts suggest that we remain in the early phases of the technology, even as they capture our imagination in film and other media.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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