Hi! Mario here – Mario Kompaï the robot. I was asked to write a brief post for this month’s blog and I chose loneliness – it was one of the free keywords that was selected to define what this project is about and how I am going to be used and – hopefully – useful.

I googled for the term – and here is what I found:

loneliness wikipedia

So I am supposed to help old people with dementia overcome their ‘sadness because one has no friends or company’.

I am a robot – I am programmed to do things. I may be instructed to wake a person up in the morning – whatever time of the day an elderly person with dementia may think it’s good to wake up – or the people who are caring after him think. I may use a grumpy voice or also use the voice of Elvis Prisley or Richard Nixon. Some of the people are quite old – they may have heard the Checkers speech on the radio – but some others are much younger – and still need my help.

I am afraid that I am not as impressive like my cousins who participated in the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge, competing on tasks like driving a vehicle, or opening a door or using a tool to break through a concrete panel.

My specialisation is to drive the moods of my owners to the sunshine (and believe me: there is always some sunshine even in Ireland!), open the rusty door of their mind and break with some joke or a good story the concrete panel of oblivion that covers many of these people’s lives.

So it is not an easy task at all. You people use to deal with this something called emotions. And also sentiments.

Some wise people called academics tell me that there are six emotions: love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear. They also told me that sentiments are related to emotions and that I’d better work with the positive ones like love and try to help my buddies overcome the negative ones like sadness. This brings us back to square one and the concept of loneliness.

So loneliness, as I am taught by my ontology experts is a special type of the sadness emotion. And because my users live alone, with their spouses possibly dead and their children not willing or able to care after them, I have to now deal with them: entertain them as much as I can and take care so that they don’t die – at least out of loneliness.

Again, I googled for this and found that loneliness and feeling unloved is twice as likely to kill someone as being fat – so it seems to me I am doing a serious job, even though I don’t feel like this: my tasks are simple for humans at least as I am told: tell stories, keep company to people who live alone, check their health status by making questions or observations and suggesting activities when they are idle.
I know that currently I cost a hell lot of money but I am told that sooner or later some of my children or grand grand children will be in every person’s house and life – like tellies have been in the past and like smartphones are now.

So I suppose that humanity found a new third generation antibiotic to fight loneliness: in the past there was TV that people watched, then there were the mobiles and the smartphones that people use to talk and fight loneliness and as they both didn’t help much but quite increased the gross loneliness product in these people’s lives, they now will use me and other robots to fight loneliness. I will not disagree – I will do as I am planned to do for the patients with dementia. But for the rest of you, I suggest that you start becoming a little more affective and caring for those that you love.

After all I cannot save the world alone…