Monday, August 6, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and Alzheimer's: A Possibility?

Been reading a book, The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. It discusses the backgrounds of design and how that affects the ease or difficulty of use of various products. It talks about why things fail even if they are wonderful inventions. It helps you understand why we usually blame ourselves when we cannot figure out how to work something when in fact it is the fault of the designers. Using many of the everyday "machines" we use, it gives an intriguing view of why we know when to push or to pull or to turn or to press ... or not.

The end of the book talks about the increased use of technology in everything we use from cars to cell phones to refrigerators. There is a section on chess-playing machines vs human experts and the fact that it is a combination of computers and humans who are the BEST at winning the game. Collaboration!

It asks, "Does the new technology make us stupid?" it answers, "No, on the contrary, it changes the tasks we do .. we in combination with technology are smarter than ever before. The power of the unaided mind is highly overrated. It is things that make us smart."

For example, we do not need to know mathematics as well as we used to when we easily have calculators at hand which do a much quicker, more accurate job than we can do alone. "Couple the use of full-body motion and gestures with high-quality auditory and visual displays what can be superimposed over the sounds and sights of the world to amplify them, to explain and annotate them, and we give to people power that exceeds anything ever known before." Norman. P. 285

Now to the point of this post. The topics at the end of the book peeked by this paragraph from the book, led me to wonder about computer or machine assisted assistance for people with Dementia! I am not even sure how to think about it but could artificial intelligence help replace, increase, facilitate, assist the intelligence and skills that a person with Dementia is slowly losing?

For example, listening to a book when you are no longer able to read is good. Maybe a door that gently reminds you, "You don't want to go out without help from Michael." might help? Dictating a blog post when you can no longer type it is one of the beneficial things a computer can do. How about creating a grocery list or a "things to do" list using only pictures or photos. Tap the photo to highlight it and your list is created?

In my search for Dementia friendly "machines" for Gregory, I found little. I found chair alarms (hate them,) or pads that let me know that he was out of bed late at night (never bought one) etc. Couldn't find a friendly computer and for sure a friendly cell phone, which might have only two buttons, one with my photo and one of a policeman?

Where else might the joining of technology, artificial intelligence forces with the human brain work to support people diagnosed with Dementia to live productive lives for longer then they would be able to do by themselves. How might caregivers incorporate the use of AI in their day to day support of the caregiving team?

Interesting thoughts. Where do we go with these?

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