Research and development of robots for health and elder care is guided by political, economic and technological visions that imagine social robots as a way to address the future care crisis caused by demographic change. Within that vision, robots were originally imagined as substitutes or assistants for care givers, thereby increasing efficiency and mitigating the lack of personnel. On a practical level, however, this overarching image of robots doing genuine care is neither technologically feasible nor aligned with practices of good care. But although this image is more or less abandoned in professional discourse, the expectation that the use of robots will somehow address the care crisis remains. This discrepancy creates special problems for embedded ethicists. We present findings from interviews and workshops with care workers that question the vision of robots as a technological solution for a societal challenge. In conclusion, this development seems to severely limit social human-robot interaction to a merely instrumental role.
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