Loneliness is a collective experience globally
The fight against social isolation and loneliness is an essential reason for social companion robots. And the phenomena of one-person households and non-shared dinners are rising. As roughly 10 percent of all Brits regularly feel isolated, London appointed a “minister of loneliness” in mid-January 2018 – the first European nation to do so, but we believe others will follow their example soon. In the US, The New York Times labeled the situation as an epidemic, implying a growing number of lonely individuals also in the States.
In Japan, the citadel of new-age solitude, the average number of people in a Tokyo home already dropped below two in 2012. At that time, the NLI Research Institute projected that by 2020, living alone will be the norm in Japan. And that’s already happening with more and more people dying alone – they are called the kodokushi – and an emerging literary genre even trying to take pride in it.
However, that might be an erroneous path to follow as living a solitary life is not only a state of mind, but it also has severe consequences for the body. Being lonely can be as bad for someone’s health as having a long-term illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the leader of Britain’s GPs said in 2017. Moreover, researchers found that social isolation is a better predictor of early death than obesity.
While it’s evident that a robotic companion cannot replace human interaction, where there is no chance for human care, a friendly and cute robotic creature is way better than nothing at all. So, let’s see the alternatives.