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Science and sensitivity

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Robots just got more real. Researchers at Orebro University in Sweden have designed the world’s first robot with cultural skills in collaboration with scientists from Europe and Japan—it can hold simple conversations, remind users to take their medication, and encourage them to stay active and stay connected with family and friends. “The idea is that robots should be capable of adapting to human culture in a broad sense, defined by a person’s belonging to a particular ethnic group,” Alessandro Saffiotti, professor of computer science at Örebro University, tells website “At the same time, they must be able to adapt to an individual’s personal preferences; so in that sense, it doesn’t matter if you’re Italian or Indian.” Next, these robots will be tested on silvers from a diverse cultural background living in retirement facilities in England and Japan to examine whether culturally aware robots improve quality of life. To know more, check out a short video at

Photo: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
December 2018