Aging and Big Brother: Orwellian Nightmare or Godsend?

The LA Times recently ran an article about new technology being developed by major health care companies (General Electric and Intel) to help the elderly population age in place.

For example:
• robotic cameras that move around grandma's house in California that can be controlled by a joystick from a family member in Montana;
• pill boxes with sensors that record when and how often medications are being taken;
• monitors in the hallway that measure the speed and gait of the resident as they walk through the house;
• devices that monitor facial expressions to look for signs of depression or anxiety
• robotic "pets" that have lifelike interactions with their owners
• and monitors on the bed that measure the rate of breathing of the occupant and can send warnings to a computer when the breathing becomes irregular or stops.
Many of these technologies are being developed in what one corporation's representative describes as a "race to see who's going to invent 21st century care services for boomers." There's a major market that is developing to serve the millions of baby boomers who are entering into the retirement stage of their lives.

While the Times article doesn't focus much on the Orwellian aspects of this technology, that threat is always present when you deal with technology. What do you think? Is this type of technology a good thing? Or is the potential for invasion of privacy or exploitation of the elderly too great that such technology will never really take off?

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