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Grandma, here’s your robot

Dr. Conor McGinn, Roboticist

Is it the loneliest idea you’ve ever heard? Or an ingenious hack that helps human caregivers be more attentive and empathetic? You might have these questions when you meet the robot caregiver who roams the halls at this retirement home, doing basic tasks for residents and keeping them connected. But is eldercare something we want a robot to do? Roboticist Conor McGinn from Trinity College Dublin actually moved into a retirement home in Washington, DC, to gain a deeper understanding of what residents might want from a robot. The answer surprised him, and it prompts deeper questions: As humans, what responsibility do we have toward our elders? When we fail them, should robots close the gap? And is that the future we want for ourselves?


“When you go into a retirement home, often you see the people sitting in front of a television. A robot like Stevie — it’s not as good as a person, but it’s probably better than a TV.”

— Dr. Conor McGinn