A new Red C survey of 1,000 adults has found that 39pc of Irish adults are concerned that robots or Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take their jobs.
A new Red C survey of 1,000 adults has found that 39pc of Irish adults are concerned that robots or Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take their jobs. In response, the Institute of Technology, Sligo is exploring how to educate future care, education and health workers in how they might work with robotic colleagues.
Unlike most factory or warehouse robots, social robots are designed to interact directly with people. They are already being used to support staff in health and aged care centres, schools, shops, tourist spots and hotels worldwide.
The Alzheimers Society is currently using a robot seal called ‘Paro’ that reacts to petting and conversation. Such technologies can be a comfort to people with Alzheimer’s or autism. Robots in healthcare and education may also assist workers in repetitive tasks that can often lead them to feeling stressed or angry.
Researchers are now trying to find ways to create a working environment where humans and robots can work side-by-side. Dr John Pender, Futurist and Senior Lecturer in Politics and Social Policy at IT Sligo, says, “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Carers will be assisted by robots and AI. There is growing evidence that the emotional intelligence possessed by social robots in the future will enable them to make a difference to vulnerable peoples’ lives.”
Dr Pender and his colleague Dr Perry Share at IT Sligo will lead a strategic educational partnership called PRoSPEro (Pedagogy of Robotics in the Social Professions in Europe) over the next three years. The project team is drawn from seven universities and organisations across Europe and combines expertise in robotics research, social care, social service delivery and pedagogy. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) is also involved with the project, providing an opportunity to work on a ‘real-case study’.
The project will span three years and has received financial backing of €344,110 from the EU Commission’s ‘Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships’ programme. PRoSPEro will tackle some key issues for those who help to develop the professionals of the future.