New York State recently launched a new program that will give out artificial intelligence robots to over 800 older adults. The robots are specifically designed to behave similarly to digital assistants such as Siri
This program, which is being put together by the New York State Office for the Aging, has been initiated in order to resolve issues such as feelings of isolation among elderly populations.
This artificial intelligence program, known as "ElliQ," will enable elderly individuals to utilize video calls, send out messages, make appointments, or receive medication reminders. It is unique from other personal assistants, since it has been specifically created to start conversations with users, as well as participate in fun activities such as trivia games, sleep relaxation exercises, or discussions about nutrition.
"Despite misconceptions and generalizations, older adults embrace new technology, especially when they see it is designed by older adults to meet their needs," said Greg Olsen, director of New York State Office for the Aging. "For those who experience some form of isolation and wish to age in place, ElliQ is a powerful complement to traditional forms of social interaction and support from professional or family caregivers."
According to various researchers from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issues such as social isolation have been associated with unpleasant health-related consequences, such as 50% risk for dementia, 32% risk of stroke, 29% risk for heart disease, and much higher risk for early death.
Although many critics of ElliQ have made the claim that artificial intelligence robots cannot easily take the place of time with friends or family, the attempt at curing social isolation among the elderly has been applauded by many proponents of the new technology.
ElliQ officially released in March 2022, and typically has been sold to customers for $250 upfront and then $30 to $40 per month for a subscription fee after that. It signifies the very first collaboration between Intuition Robotics and state government, and has a general budget of $2.9 million for its programs.