[extropy-chat] More forwards please

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Thu Jan 11 21:32:46 UTC 2007

I'll throw my 2 cents into the ring here.  There was an interesting article
recently in the NY Times about people my age (boomers) slowly having their
wealth (and perhaps sanity) being drained in the process of caring for their
elderly parents.  Observing the process of growing "old" in my parents quite
closely over the last year I can see where robots and IA have a significant
opportunity to "uplift" humans as they are now (never mind the transhuman
aspects that would result from returning my parents indefintely to a
youthful state -- I know how to solve that problem and it is *hard* (though
not "real" nanotech *hard*)).  But the simple aspects of robots that would
help my mother prepare diner (she has arthritis that makes cutting things up
difficult) or computer systems (!Windows which is brain dead && !Linux which
isn't exactly user friendly) that would not create problems for people like
my father (who is quite competent from a technical standpoint but didn't
grow up with computers) or that could work with either parent to exercise
their minds (something shown to extend longevity) [1].

Everyone tends to be focused on the rush rush youth market (my mother or
father use an Apple iPhone (see me ROTFL) care about "MySpace" (whats
MySpace?), etc.)  There is little emphasis on how to augment the lifestyles
of the elderly to allow them to remain functional and productive -- perhaps,
as Ray puts it, "Living long enough to live forever".  I don't know if my
parents will make it.  The odds are against them.  But for those of you on
the list who have parents in their 60s, maybe even their late 50s, you
should be asking yourselves whether it is "moral" to develop, market and
push on technologies that *only* benefit those in the 15-30 y.o. age
bracket?  I would predict there will come a time, sometime perhaps in the
2015 to 2030 time frame when books will be written with titles like "How
many could we have saved?"

This isn't rocket science -- simple things like distributing / tracking /
asking people about whether they have taken their medications, quick
calculations based on verbal Q&A regarding dietary intake, etc. could make a
big difference in the quality of life for the elderly.

So a couple of simple questions for Jef.
Q1: What was the average CES attendee age?
Q2: Would you be willing to stand outside the entrance next year holding up
a big sign saying "How many must die before we say 'Never again?'... And
will you really mean it this time?" [2]


1. It is worth noting that an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner is something that
can significantly benefit the quality of life of those with limited mobility
(by keeping homes clean).  Now in an ideal world, iRobot would not be
focused on producing mobile robots for combat surveillance purposes
(something I believe they are working on), or even more questionable combat
purposes, but would instead be trying to produce a robut "duster" (something
a little bit trickier since it has to operate in 3D rather than just 2D).

2. The "you" not meaning Jef but the attendees to CES -- presumably most of
whom have heard of places like Rwanda and Darfur.  (The elderly death toll
in the U.S. on an annual basis dwarfs the death tolls of Rwanda and Darfur.)
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