REPAIR Scholarly Talk by Barbara Barbosa Neves

We warmly invite you to the REPAIR Scholarly Talk! Dr Barbara Barbosa Neves (Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies, The University of Sidney) will give an inspiring  talk entitled Breaking, Repairing, and Renewing AI in Care Homes: Challenging Promissory Discourses & Ageism. The event takes place on Tuesday 13.8. at 16:30 at the Main Building of the University of Helsinki (Fabianinkatu 33). Commentators will be announced closer to the event.

Register for the event here.

Breaking, Repairing, and Renewing AI in Care Homes: Challenging Promissory Discourses & Ageism

The use of AI technologies in care (nursing) homes – from social robots to chatbots – has gained attention amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering potential solutions to systemic challenges like staffing shortages and loneliness among residents. Yet, new technologies developed for later life care often reinforce views of older people as passive or digitally unskilled, prompting us to question whether and how AI in care homes might exacerbate ageism – and, thereby, break promises of care and empowerment. For this, we explored what ideas of ageing underline practices and perceptions of AI through participant observation (ethnography) at an industry digital health and ‘AgeTech’ conference and 18 semi-structured interviews with AI developers and care home staff/advocates. Findings show that, despite positive intentions, all groups engaged in what we termed sociotechnical ageism, advancing simplistic representations of aging, care, and the technological capacity of older people. Additionally, we found positive and ambivalent experiences of AI-based care. While ‘integrative’ care, incorporating humans and technology, was salient across participants, we identified several divides between AI developers and care staff. For example, developers lacked experiential knowledge of care homes’ daily functioning, influencing how they designed AI. Care staff demonstrated limited experiential knowledge of AI or more critical views about contexts of use, affecting their trust in these technologies. As AI is increasingly employed in care and health environments, we must consider its role in affecting quality of care and social inclusion. We conclude by reflecting on critical ways to both repair and renew AI-human relations for later life care.

Barbara Barbosa Neves

Dr Barbara Barbosa Neves (PhD, FRSA, FHEA) is an award-winning sociologist of technology and ageing. She is an internationally recognised expert on loneliness, social isolation, and socio-digital inequalities in later life. Her research has been used to improve technology co-design for frail older people and to inform care practices and policy in Canada, Australia, and Portugal. Barbara has a background in sociology and human-computer interaction. Prior to moving to Australia, she was an Associate Director at the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada. Currently, she is a Senior Horizon Fellow on AI and ageing at the Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies, The University of Sydney (Australia). Barbara has received 25 prestigious awards in North America, Japan, Europe, and Australia, and has secured over 5 million dollars in competitive funding from Australia, the European Union, and Canada. She has published widely in top-tier journals/outlets in Social and Computer Sciences and is a regular media commentator. Her work has been featured in ABC, The Guardian, SBS, CBC, Channel 7, among others.