Flash Forward: The Grey Dawn

On this episode, we’re talking about the future of senior care.

Namely: what happens when we outsource care for our aging loved ones to robots, apps and devices?

Let’s start by defining the challenge that the technology in today’s episode is trying to solve: in the United States, there are six million people over the age of 85. Experts estimate that, by 2050, that number will jump to 19 million. And a question looms over those numbers, right? Who’s going to take care of us? And who is going to pay for our care? The average cost of a year in a nursing home in the United States is over $80,000. In home services provided by humans are $48,000. At the same time, care facilities are already reporting a shortage of qualified nurses.

So of course one of the classes of solutions proposed to this looming problem is technology. There are already apps to monitor and assist seniors, robots to remind them to take their meds,  and sensors to predict when they might fall. There are even little robot animals that can provide them with affection and comfort. But what do we give up when we hand our parents over to robots? What do they want? And are the products that tech people are coming up with actually solving the problem at all? Those are the questions of today’s episode. To answer them I talk to:

Further reading:

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The voice of the annoyed father in the intro was played by Brent Rose. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on TwitterFacebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.

And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to www.flashforwardpod.com/support for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to Apple Podcasts and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.

That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.

 

 

Flash Forward is a critically acclaimed podcast about the future.

In each episode, host Rose Eveleth takes on a possible (or not so possible) future scenario — everything from the existence of artificial wombs, to what would happen if space pirates dragged a second moon to Earth. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a black market for fecal transplants? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) By combining audio drama and deep reporting, Flash Forward gives listeners an original and unique window into the future, how likely different scenarios might be, and how to prepare for what might come.


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