At Your Deathbed: Last Moment Robot
I've nearly lost count of how many ways robots are making life's carnal origins more synthetic. Whether it's robot prostitutes, kiss transmitters or life-like mechanical butts, baby making has become less human and more humanoid.
Since coitus seems to have been compromised by the bots, while we're at it, why not skip ahead to the bitter end and bookend this thing we call life with even more robots?
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Laying lonely in a hospital bed wheezing your last breaths? Sad no one's there to comfort you as you slip into the great beyond? No problem. Artist, designer and engineer, Dan Chen, has you covered. In fact, he'd like to introduce you to his robot. Here it comes now and it has something to say:
I am the Last Moment Robot. I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on Earth. I am sorry that your family and friends can't be with you right now, but don't be afraid. I am here to comfort you. You are not alone, you are with me. Your family and friends love you very much, they will remember you after you are gone.
Not only that, as it coos those final words, Last Moment Robot will caress the soon-to-be dead with a soothing, not-at-all creepy animatronic arm.
Thankfully, Chen's robot is more of an artistic statement than a pinch-hitter for missing family members. In his interactive End of Life Hospital installation, at least Chen is conscious of the contemplative duality that his robot conjures.
"The process of dying is probably the most vulnerable moment of a human life, where one seeks the assurance of human connection," Chen writes on his website. "In this installation, human presence is replaced with a robot, questioning the quality of intimacy without humanity."
Chen adds: "The Last Moment Robot takes the idea of human replacement to a more extreme scale. It allows for robotic intimacy technology to be reevaluated. The form factors are also been challenged, instead of mimicking the real, the Last Moment Robot’s objective is aim to allowing the patients to experience the paradoxical sensation. Allow the patients knowingly interact with the placebo treatment."
While I'm a little relieved that Chen's more philosophical nature seems to be fueling Last Moment Robot, I must come to grips with the fact that many people die in the absence of human comfort. For that reason alone, maybe a tranquil robotic voice and gentle touch of a machine doesn't sound so devoid of compassion after all.
Credit: David Chen