After reading “Robots That Care” by Jerome Groopman I was very skeptical of the use of robots in the medical field. I was definitely fascinated that robots can even be used to help stroke patients recover. I was completely unaware that robots like this even existed. When I picture robots I imagine the robotic vacuum or the Polaris pool cleaner, I never picture a human like object that can almost take the place of a nurse or therapist. Although fascinating, what really sparked my skepticism was that it seemed as if Groopman was mainly focusing on the fact that the robots were helping patients recover better than if they were recovering alone. What if an actual nurse took the place of the robot; wouldn’t the patient recover even better that way? That is where my issue arises with the use of robots. Like mentioned by Groopman robots might be helpful, but they are not humans and do not have emotions and cannot read emotions. Robots may be able to reinforce a patients to use their weaker body parts affected by the stroke and encourage patients to keep going when things get tough, but they are unable to read the emotions of their patient and thus change their emotions to bring out the best in their patient.
I know these robots are used as enhancers to the nurse or therapist, but for patients that have suffered from a stroke I believe that they may need more care. If patients are not using their right arm because that was affected by the stroke and the robot tries to tell them to use their left arm and the patients does not, there is no punishment. The robot is not a person and cannot enforce anything; thus, the patient does not get a proper recovery. This is why I believe for patients who have suffered from something as bad as a stroke, they deserve better care. Although, maybe some robots can be used in recovery based on the patient. For those patients who are determined to get better and always give 100% during therapy exercises, a robot would probably be successful to help encourage; however for those patients who always give up during therapy exercises and say they cannot do it, a robot would probably not be successful encouraging them because they have a bad mentality.
I think what scares me the most about these medical robots is the fact that the human race has reached this new level of technology where we are starting to replace human interaction with technology. Groopman says that some of these robots look like R2-D2 from “Star Wars” and that scares me. “Star Wars” is supposed to be a futuristic world, but now it is coming to life. We have R2-D2s running around helping people now. Even though they can talk and interact physically with us, that does not make them equivalent to us. They are not human and their interactions do not compare with human-to-human interactions. All in all I do not believe robots should be used in the medical field until their interactions with us equal our interactions with other humans.


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