I’m not sure I can think of anything worse than a robot who thinks it knows better than me about things that it literally cannot know even the first thing about, such as, ooh, I dunno, LIVING IN A HUMAN BODY AND EATING HUMAN FOOD.
And yet here we are, in the year of our Lord 2017, and I have it on good authority that there is a robot designed to do this very thing: talk me out of eating unhealthy snacks, as though it’s sooo smart just because it “doesn’t have a stomach” and “never feels cravings” and “is programmed to preserve my health”.
Nicole Robinson, a PhD student at the QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation is kicking off a study in Brisbane that will pair participants who often consume high-sugar, high-fat snacks with one of two knee-high NAO robots named Andy and Rob (why).
The robots will be there for the study participants to discuss their health and eating goals, ask questions, and provide a “non-judgemental” and (nightmarishly, imho) child-like presence designed to make participants feel more comfortable than they would talking to, say, a human person.
Robinson spoke to the ‘Brisbane Times’ about the project, and stressed that the robots would represent a crucial difference between both face-to-face discussions with health professionals and input-only health monitoring, such as with an app on your phone.
“Behavioural change can be difficult to do. It can be something that is a little bit uncomfortable or sometimes people just need a little bit of a helping hand to get started.“Because we do have the robot, it is someone you can bounce back between so it is not just an information relay, it is not just inputting your data, it feels like an interaction with somebody, having the robot in the room with you.“It is a little bit of a step up from a self-directed program that you would do from a tablet or smartphone.”
Andy and Rob (WHY) are not supposed to replace healthcare professionals, but are intended to be a low-cost, consistent way to help people maintain healthy habits.
Whether or not these ‘bots with the breakfast radio host names will actually help people “decrease or limit their sugary snack intake” is yet to be seen; I, for one, wholeheartedly reject our new robot overlords, and will see you on the other side of this sack of doughnut fries.
Source: Brisbane Times.