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February 2023

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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