Edinburgh Science: Can Robots Care?

12 April 2023, Bayes Centre

Robots have escaped the factory floors they were originally designed for. Today we're likely to encounter them in diverse settings, including increasingly health and care. Join this event to discuss the latest developments in assistive and care robots and what's at stake for people working in and relying on health and care services. We'll talk about how robots might reshape care practices, from surgery to rehabilitation to managing chronic conditions. Attendees are also invited to join an informal 'knowledge café' at 4pm to meet the panellists beforehand and start the conversation.

How could a robot help you or your family in your home?

Would you let a robot care for your elderly and infirm relative?

Science fiction images of human-like robots able to take over all kinds of physical and personal support will not be fulfilled in the foreseeable future. Instead engineers are building various kinds of robotic and autonomous systems able to support particular activities – eg to carry things; to help people move; to offer companionship.  But what activities can we safely delegate to smart machines?  Would you trust a machine to look after a loved one? How could a robot help deliver your vision of good family life?

These issues are being considered by experts in engineering and law. But we are seeking to explore the views of potential carers and family members who are expected to use and rely on robotics.

Come along and discuss these issues with us. The session will hear from people designing robots and health and social care professionals and invite members of the public to discuss how technology and society are developing together. The event will alternate panel provocations with  audience engagement (assisted by mentimeter polls); contrasting developer conceptions of robotic/assistive technologies/services with public imaginaries and critical appraisals. The aim will be to consider plausible concrete instances for using care robot.

This event is organised by members of the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems programme from the University of Edinburgh and University College London.

The knowledge cafe at 4 pm will be an informal event, coordinated by Cian O’Donovan from University College London. Small group discussions over coffee and cake will explore the latest developments in assistive and care robots and discuss what's at stake for people working in and relying on health and care services. Discussion will focus on the kinds of human and technical capabilities/training that workforces will need to work with robots and assistant technologies in health and social care.


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