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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."  

Asking Bing and ChatGPT about AI-enabled technologies to help older adults

Technology trackers, don't quit your day job yet. But forward motion is detectable.  Asked: "What AI technologies are available today to help older adults?" Learning about the interpretation of the question and the selection of responses is interesting. The result of good PR from the companies named?  How should marketers view content creation in this new world?  Does it depend on a loose definition of what is AI?  All of the above?  It's a good idea that intermediaries will be required to assess the utility of the responses and the offerings that present them, at least in the short term. But here are answers:

AI and the Internet of Caring Things

These two letters, AI, have risen to top of tech talk and media minds.  A quick search reveals near hysteria in the media and near panic among leading tech firms.  And even the Federal Trade Commission is wary of the current hype and AI-powered marketing claims.  Experts warn about the need for ‘guardrails’ against tools giving inappropriate answers, and they worry about ethics to underpin the answers of tools like ChatGPT. So as a result, tech firms want you to know that they are working on appropriate fixes.  As is typical of hype cycles, initial innovation is viewed as astounding, followed by efforts to break or downplay it.  Which means it will become very useful.

The Tech Support Chasm -- tough to cross for older adults

Parks Associates' update this week is illuminating. In offering up a chart and commentary about tech in the ‘connected’ home, note trouble and aggravation. In addition, half of all households reported difficulty in setting up their Wi-Fi network (see Figure 1). Consider the first 3 reasons for returning (installation, learning features, configuring settings). Those reading this blog can look around their own home – noting a Wi-Fi network, smartphone, smart speaker, or in some homes a smart doorbell, thermostat, refrigerator – or a too-smart car. Aside from returning a product that is baffling to deal with, what should people, not just older adults do?  As new products proliferate, 6 or more devices in the home, what will they do?

Beginning a Look at The Future of AI and Older Adults 2023

Can tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E be helpful to older adults? Of course, in the ways it can be helpful to any adult. The simple examples – retrieval of information and generated images seem very different from traditional (ad-driven) search tools. Given the early user base of ChatGPT (optimizing language models for dialogue), 100 million within the first few months, clearly developers, investors, and consumers agree. And multiple other companies are jumping into the market, perhaps playing catchup with early entrants. DALL-E (creating images from text captions) and other generative AI have become, uh, visible, and perhaps really useful in film-making and video game development. But how will this category be applied in the older adult marketplace, either for them directly or for those who serve them? 

The hype of aging in place -- so bad for so many

The articles and tech industry focus on ‘aging in place’ and fear. And it’s not unlike the ‘I’ve Fallen and I can’t Get Up’ fear. AARP fuels it with survey results (77% of the 50+ want to age in place). Free-lance writers follow up with an Aging in Place story citing the survey. It capitalizes on the recent CES with a laundry list of tech offerings that could help with fears -- like sensors, medication management, motion sensors and smart watches to mitigate fear of falling. And AARP helps add brand recognition to the term ‘Age Tech’ with a collaborative of companies at the Nexus of Longevity and Technology to deal with health issues and mitigate fear.  But wait…

Did you miss one? Note January posts about CES 2023, ChatGPT and more

2023 begins with so many announcements, so little time.  The first big event, CES 2023, brought multiple startups and stalwarts to Las Vegas. Ironically, it was not the big tech news of the month – eclipsed by an OpenAI introduction that had appeared in November, but was suddenly noticed – first in December in the media. But then with a possible $29 billion valuation, Microsoft apparently offered up another $10 billion and Google’s ad business was suddenly and first the first time actually challenged.  A few simple test questions ‘(how do families fund nursing homes?’ and ‘what is the definition of dementia?’) and it is clear that the result is more complete than Google’s list of links.  As January’s end, the excitement continues.  Can AI be useful in the older adult markets of home care, senior living and beyond?  Stay tuned.

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