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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.

2023 Market Overview (4 of 4): Technology Augments, Does not Replace Care

Technology solutions augment care – not replacing family or support. The categories of technology offerings help older adults age successfully and include independent market segments – each useful – but together, they complete a puzzle for a fulfilling and interactive life for older adults, enabled with the support of families and caregivers and include the sub-categories as shown in the examples at the end of the Technology for Aging 2023 Market Overview.  Care-related service organizations are taking a closer look at technologies that could help them cope more effectively with staffing shortages and other issues. However, as the photo history of phones shows, the trick is to select solutions, not tech, with staying power and support services to buffer organizations and individuals from the harshest impact of change.

2023 Market Overview (3 of 4) Advice to Vendors: It's Service, not Products

To reach older adults and their families, one go-to-market channel is not enough. Depending on the product or service, it may need a mix of resellers/distributors, face-to-face, and online sales. The 2022 FCC broadband progress map revealed the geographic areas of the US that lack high speed Internet access, and even if it were available, many do not go online, whether due to perceived lack of benefit, high cost, or low awareness. If that population needs a technology or service, such as access to benefits, their caregivers must search online on their behalf. Today if looking for assistive tech for older adults, today there are multiple options, including Amazon or Best Buy.  But new market entrants should find local partners to test product effectiveness before going national.

2023 Market Overview (2 of 4): Aging and Caregiving Policy Recommendations

Caregiving and other demands of an aging population are gaining attention. In a University of Michigan national poll in November, 2022, more than half of adults aged 50-80 say they have helped an adult aged 65+ with health, personal and other types of care needs. Another study noted that the average family caregiver is a baby boomer woman. Notable at the end of 2022, the Administration for Community Living published the National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers.  In addition to the government-supported discount on broadband access, the report recommended “future-focused tools and assistive technology, such as smart homes, wearable blood pressure and heart monitoring devices, automated pill dispensers, e-learning modules, task management apps, speech amplification and adaptation systems, and geo-tracking.” Some of these tools are included among examples in the Technology for Aging 2023 Market Overview.

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