A robot designed to help the elderly or disabled can be trained to recognize faces in photos and videos, and to give the elderly and people with disabilities the same comfort they get from physical therapy.
The project was founded by the nonprofit Artificial Intelligence Lab, which hopes to eventually build a full-fledged artificial intelligence system that could provide the same level of assistance as a trained physical therapist.
The system would learn to recognize people in photos by using facial recognition technology, and then train it to mimic the physical function of that person, and even learn about their medical history.
A system could also be used for social and psychological assessment.
While the project is still in the very early stages, its founder, Nick Hausman, said he’s confident the robot could become an integral part of the aging process.
“We have to go back to the physical therapy paradigm, where the goal is to restore the body to the state that it was before we have any disease,” he said.
“It’s going to take us 10 years to be able to reverse this, and it’s going in the right direction.”
The system, called AIC, could also help the older population find new ways to care for themselves, with the hope of developing treatments for dementia, Parkinson’s, and other conditions.
The group hopes to roll out the system in 2021, which would be just a few years after the project launched.
The goal of AIC is to replace the physical therapist with a system that can learn and mimic the function of a patient, said Hausmen.
This would make the AI system more like the physical therapists, he said, because it can’t perform all the physical functions of the person, like picking up the body and moving it, and only do certain things like helping the person feel comfortable and secure in their surroundings.
The AI system would also help AIC make better decisions in terms of where it’s placing the body in a given space, and also how much time a person needs to spend in a particular space.
“I think a lot of what we’re trying to do is get away from physical therapists,” Hausmans said.
The idea of an AI system that learns to mimic physical functions and then help the person would also be extremely useful for people who have physical disabilities.
“For example, we have a physical therapist in our community, and he can’t do everything.
He’s never going to be the physicalist, he can only do a limited number of things,” Hauxman said.
In addition to the elderly, the project could help people with learning disabilities, as well.
For example, a person with autism might be more apt to use a wheelchair, and someone with learning difficulties might need help getting around a room, said Chris Miller, the president of AI Lab.
Miller said the AI systems could be trained by showing a person an image and then asking them to follow directions.
“If you were to train this system, what you would see is this person will follow the instructions of the system, but if they’re really bad, they’ll go and do something else,” Miller said.
This could be useful for disabled people who can’t interact with people at a high level.
AIC also aims to help people in other areas of life, such as social workers, who can help the AI understand the needs of the elderly.
The program also aims at helping people with physical conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as the AI would learn about the physical condition of the people it was working with and then give the patient a better understanding of how to manage their condition.
A more general goal is helping people get back to normal, said Miller.
“This is an interesting approach for the elderly who have dementia or who have a lot on their plate,” he told The Verge.
“There are a lot more people who are struggling with those issues, so we really want to help them.”
The AI could also potentially help people who want to go home.
The AIC system could be used as a tool to help prevent dementia or help people like the elderly stay in touch with family members who have Alzheimer’s disease.
The robot would be trained on people who were in the same age group as the person who is currently at home and could ask questions about the person’s mental state, the extent of the dementia and other medical information that could help it understand how the person is feeling.
The robots could even be used on other people, and they could learn to provide physical comfort.
Miller told The Washington Post that the AIC program could help the system understand how it is performing at home.
“The goal of the AI is to make the robot as intelligent as possible, but in addition to that, we want it to learn and to learn to do things like socialize and communicate,” he explained.