Chen, an artist, designer, and engineer who just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in Digital + Media, built the machine as one of a series of functional robots capable of reenacting human social behaviors. But just how much can a machine impart comfort and security?
Therapeutic robots have been used with other populations as well, including. But the idea of what is, in essence, a robot hospice worker, pushes the conceptual boundaries of human-machine interaction to places some people might not be ready to go. Which is precisely what Chen wants to do.
“The device is meant to raise questions,” he says. “The process of dying is probably the most vulnerable moment of a human life, where one seeks the assurance of human connection. In this installation, human presence is replaced with a robot, questioning the quality of intimacy without humanity.”
- What do you think is the “right” way to die?
- Would you like to be accompanied by a robot as you die? What about your mobile phone?
- People subcontract out many manual jobs – for example, there are domestic servants to do housework, nannies to look after babies, tutors to teach children. Have human beings become disconnected from each other that even death becomes a detached affair?