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Observations about AI and older adults

It’s a scary time to think about AI. Healthcare workers are nervous, professional caregivers think it’s too early. To read the media, reporters are sharing their anxiety. AI is terrifying about the possibility of making people (and journalists) obsolete or initiating accidental destruction and havoc.  Doctors worry about the elimination of whole specialties like radiology and educators are in a tizzy trying to determine the real author of student projects. The media frets frequently about mistakes made by ChatGPT.   But the situation is vastly different in the older adult marketplace. It is a space that benefits greatly from AI’s capability to learn from accumulated data, combined with its ability to predict possibilities like Alzheimer's disease based on that data, informing caregivers, families, and other stakeholders.  Other countries with serious caregiving labor shortages see the possibilities – and if anything the US senior care industry is late to the party. 

Five years of AgeTech trend reports – worth a reminder

Monitoring the AgeTech market, one major trend at a time.  One of the key roles of an industry analyst is to detect and predict new trends that will make a difference in the lives of older adults. Consider the five year sequence of reports below, from oldest to most recent, from the introduction of voice tech to the Covid-driven rise of telehealth to smart homes to wearables to sensors to the current research underway (stay tuned!) about The Future of AI and Older Adults. The uptake of ‘voice first’ (versus ‘screen and keyboard first’) technologies in 2018 was a very big deal. It now seems obvious that people expect multiple modalities interaction with a technology. Now 100 million Americans own at least one smart speaker – now AI technology will enable the next generation of user interactions. Here are those reports:

Chatbots and conversational AI offer help with finding care

Chatbots can be helpful to older adults and families. As part of research on the Future of AI and Older Adults, interviewees are talking about the potential role of chatbots – and why they should matter. Not surprisingly, a search for ‘chatbots and older adults’ reveals research studies targeting those aged 60+, startup investment, for example, Lena, which evolved into Lena Health for scheduling appointments, and a small study about what makes a compelling chatbot. But for older adults  or families who hesitant about searching for information or frustrated with online sites or call trees, chatbots can be the ideal solution. They can also boost tech confidence and user self-sufficiency. Although the real purpose of chatbots is to save response center labor and boost efficiency – they should help the user get what they need.

Did you miss one? Five Aging and Health Tech blog posts March 2023

The future of AI and older adults is now. The hype about ChatGPT and its peers has revolutionized the tech world. And it is clear from current research that this revolution isn’t temporary, nor is it even sudden. Though with its initial user calculation at 100 million, it now appears the fastest growing 'consumer' application in history. And it is fair to say that the applications of it are making its way into the world of older adults, this AARP article describes its uses for older adults in generating a letter to contest a medical bill. And it notes the ability to ‘provide companionship, offer mental stimulation, share stories and experiences, and suggest hobbies and activities.’ Although the article claimed on Feb 28 that there was no mobile version, Bing Chat has this interactive chat built in, including support for multiple languages) and available for any smartphone. And ChatGPT can be accessed through any mobile browser. Here are four other blog posts from March to think about: 

Five examples of use of AI in the care of older adults

AI use in care delivery and marketing is not new - it just seems that way. Most would agree: AI is the hottest segment in the technology market today. It is beginning to emerge even in market segments that may have been slow to see (or seize) the opportunity. In healthcare, there are research reports and predictions, though adoption has been slow. AI is more established in marketing, even in senior-related businesses. More systems will emerge that learn data patterns and algorithms to construct an interaction or respond appropriately. And during the summer, stay tuned for the new report "The Future of AI and Older Adults." Here are five current examples, all information from the vendor websites:

Poor information hobbles market perceptions about older adults

Even Bing and ChatGPT have lousy answers. In fact, as lives lengthen, data about aging individuals dwindles inversely. Don’t believe it? Start searching for recently surveyed data about individuals aged 75+. Use the usual searches for income, marital status, housing status, tech ownership.  Go ahead – give Bing and ChatGPT a try too – for example, smartphone ownership in the US among those aged 75+.  Data returned was from 2017, with an apology that nothing more recent was available. You would think this was an easy question -- Bing knew it  and was sorry about the lack of current info, which none of the other usual sources have either.

We are all novice technology users on this bus

Accessibility and usability – who knew they were different?  The term (and features) arose from the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, amended by Congress in 2008, when the focus was on reducing/eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. Although it appeared at the time to be a good start, the amendments were produced after it was clear that the ADA did not (and still does not) fulfill the expectation of enabling individuals with disabilities to participate in all aspects of life.  However, even with the amendments, the job of making locations accessible to those with disabilities, including wheelchairs, left much to be desired, as the AXS map initiative demonstrates. Initially mapping locations in New York City -- the crowd-sourced AXS map was founded by Jason DaSilva and described in the 2013 documentary When I Walk. The crowd-sourced map continues to update accessible locations around the world. And Jason continues to tackle the boundaries and limitations for those with disabilities.

In 2023, The Future of AI and Older Adults is now -- and also up next

The hype about ChatGPT and its peers has revolutionized the tech world.  And it is clear from current research that this revolution isn’t temporary, nor is it even sudden. Though with its initial user calculation at 100 million, it now appears the fastest growing ‘consumer’ application in history.   And it is fair to say that the applications of it are making its way into the world of older adults, this AARP article describes its uses for older adults in generating a letter to contest a medical bill.   And it notes the ability to ‘provide companionship, offer mental stimulation, share stories and experiences, and suggest hobbies and activities.’ Although the article claimed on Feb 28 that there was no mobile version, Bing Search (an alternative mechanism) has this interactive chat built in, including support for  multiple languages) and available for any smartphone. And ChatGPT can be accessed through any mobile browser.

Our passwords, ourselves -- the nightmare of authentication

Rant on. Signing on to my bank account on a computer – there is that two-factor authentication (2FA) thing again.  a) Find your phone, b) accept the text message, c) copy the ‘we will never share your information with others’ privacy token into the appropriate location on the screen.  And that’s after your password is accepted – and your identity is verified. Feeling safe and protected. Okay, sort of safe, for already having my identity stolen due to a log-in at a health center during the Anthem breach in 2015.  And having a paper check stolen out of an envelope and readdressed to a thief this past year.  And so on.

Did you miss one? Note February posts about AI, tech support and aging in place

February – that’s when the 2023 AI hysterical hype cycle went into full gear. You know a topic is important when leading media sites like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal become irrational and contribute to the general cacophony – even offering up worries from, wait for it, Henry Kissinger and Eric Schmidt – Kissinger is 98, but apparently still trying out new software tools.  Eric Schmidt was former CEO of Google – he should be worried.  But the article ChatGPT Heralds an Intellectual Revolution was the whipped cream on top of the icing on the cake. Its subtitle: "Generative artificial intelligence presents a philosophical and practical challenge on a scale not experienced since the start of the Enlightenment."  

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