Robots That Care



In the first of a two-part series, Robots that Care, Jon Stewart charts the advances in robotics that are increasingly leading to direct one-to-one contact between humans and robots.

Stewart visits robotocists and their collaborators in the USA and UK and asks how the robots will be used in the future.

He examines the way cinema has shaped our ideas of robots and investigates the gulf between our expectations of what robots can do and the reality.

A fundamental question that scientists are posing is how we should consider the robots who, in the near future, will live alongside us in our homes.

Should they be considered slaves, pets or friends? And Jon Stewart explores how the ideas of Isaac Asimov, that firstly robots should do no harm, have evolved over the decades.

Producer: Colin Grant.

Jon Stewart examines how scientists are trying to bridge the gap between robots and humans

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In the second of a two-part series, Robots that Care, Jon Stewart visits research institutes in the USA and UK to explore the brave new ideas about how robots may be able to help humans on a one-to-one basis.

He talks to key roboticists, their collaborators and volunteers about the practicalities and ethics of using robots to help people.

A number of studies have been done and more are underway in the use of robots for people wanting to lose weight and for children who are autistic.

Robotocists are also conducting long-term projects with people who have suffered strokes.

The robots are designed as personal instructors to help motivate and restore motor function.

But they must be emotionally smart and coax rather than order about like a sergeant major.

The roboticists are also examining how they might customise their robots to fit the personalities of the people whom they will serve.

We have put robots on the moon but it seems that it is more difficult to put them in homes.

A visit to a robot house in the UK shows that there are many pitfalls still to overcome before robots will be useful in our living rooms and kitchens.

Finally, Robots that Care asks: what are the dangers of making the robots too human? Are there problems of dependency? What ethical and moral questions arise when robots socialise human beings?

Producer: Colin Grant.

Jon Stewart explores how robots are used as carers and motivators.