Frankenstein & the care machines of our future

In 25 years machines will surpass us

The  artificial intelligence (AI) of today is at the level of a five-year  old, but technological development is accelerating at such a speed that  transistors double their capacity every year and a half.

Researchers predict that the first computer to match human intelligence is only a couple of decades away.

”Robots with the intellectual capacity of an adult human being are not so far away,” says Martin Salzmann-Eriksson.

Machines decide over life and death

One  may assume that there will be medical equipment connected to AI that  perhaps decides, in situations when people are close to death, whether  they should live or die.

Should there be an  artificial intelligence in charge at that point, then the risk is that  mathematical algorithms and financial incitement associated with the  hospital finances regulate procedure, rather than human values about  life and empathy and caring.

”Our project is aimed  to give clues as to what the relationship is between empathy and AI, and  contribute our understanding so that it will be useful for the future.

Caring monsters

Artificial  intelligence is a human creation, exactly like monsters. By studying  caring monsters the researchers hope to learn about which situations  generate empathic capacities for, for example love, protection and  surveillance.

By applying the knowledge of how  monsters care, in the records of this artificial intelligence one can  perhaps avert the dystopian society that many depict, once artificial  intelligence surpasses the intelligence of human beings.

Perhaps the most well known example is the Terminator films, where machines are meant to exterminate mankind.

–  It is important to increase the understanding of what care means and to  challenge the traditional ways of looking at care and caring.

–  Important also to turn the tables and study other situations where one  can see caring activities. Studying monsters that are in a caring  situation gives us an opportunity to look at care beyond traditional  care situations where it is often taken for granted.

Researchers want to issue a challenge

Traditionally,  care and care activities have been studied in the institutions and  environments where it takes place: hospitals, old people’s homes,  homecare etc.

– We want to look at situations where  the monsters in popular culture depart from the monster stereotype;  analyse who and why, when and how monster characters actually become  nurturing and caring.

– Cataloguing such incidents  and examining in which situations they arise, and which different types  of monsters utilize this behaviour, is part of the Project.

Help save the planet, report a caring monster

The project that Martin Salzmann Eriksson is engaged in with Henrik Eriksson, is called Caring Monsters.

Observations  of monsters in popular culture all over the globe are collected on the  website “Caring Monsters” under the motto “Help save the planet, report a  caring monster.”

The researchers are hoping that a  sufficient number of reports will be sent in via the international  website over the next year or so.

-This is a  project within the frame for fundamental research so we do not really  know where it will lead. It is similar to all basic research that is  usually much more established within science.

 

 

For further information please contact:

Martin  Salzmann-Erikson Doctor in Health Sciences, post-doctoral position at  Gävle University
Tel: 0707-10 69 99
Email:  martinsalzmannerikson@gmail.com

Henrik Eriksson Professor in Care Sciences at The Swedish Red Cross University College, Stockholm

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo: Ove Wall

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