92-year-old John Winward tested the first time as an intelligent speaker. He said that speaking to a little thing like that and him talking back was a sign of the insanity.
John Winward is the former headteacher. He was one of the group of residents at the elderly care home in England, Bournemouth. Winward recently took part in a half-year academic experiment. The experiment was designed for testing if artificial intelligence voice technologies might help tackle loneliness. He converted quickly.
Winward said that he was very much surprised, and it was much fun. He explained it several years later. Thus, he remains an active user of his Google Home device. Winward asks the speaker for the crossword puzzle clues, audiobook tips, music, weather updates, and for the news. Moreover, sometimes he asks the machine to tell a joke. Winward adds that a smart speaker keeps him sane. It is because it’s a very lonely life when you lose a partner after 64 years. Thus, you must spend a lot of time in your room alone.
Moreover, loneliness is a global problem. Some scientists believe that it can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being severely overweight. In the issue, those involved are both elderly and the young. The coronavirus-related lockdowns in cities around the world and guidelines of the self-isolation will exacerbate the problem for those older than 70.
Professor Arlene Astell is a psychologist at the University of Reading. In Bournemouth, she worked on the smart speaker experiment. Astell said that all the participants at the care home took to it well.
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In the current climate, billions of pensioners around the world are in social isolation. It is because of the coronavirus spreading the risk. She believes that smart speakers can prove to be a handy tool.
The emails and texts, video, and phone calls remain highly recommended tools to keep in touch during the outbreak of coronavirus. Nevertheless, unlike them, smart speakers can guarantee the immediate opportunity for connecting with a voice. And it does not matter at what time of the day or night.
Thus, a smart speaker device is beneficial.
Astell says that there must be something as simple as being able to have a conversation. Or there must be something for interacting when you want to. It will be beneficial to keep the person positive.
Astell adds that voice-activated devices help to provide a sense of control. It also can be helpful in this time of enormous uncertainty.
That project of artificial intelligence in Bournemouth received a very cautious welcome from the United Kingdom’s largest mental health charity, Mind.
Stephen Buckley is the head of information. He said that they know that feeling lonely might contribute to poor mental health. That is caused by a lack of social contact with other people. In that case, artificial intelligence might be helpful. It will be more useful for those who can’t make any new social connections or who need to stay in social isolation.
Nevertheless, he warns that it is essential that it does not become a substitute for human contact.