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Beyond Health Technologies for Aging

MARCH 25, 2022

Robin Brewer, PhD
Associate Professor
School of Information
University of Michigan

About the Presentation: The United States Census predicts that by 2030, one in five people will be over the age of 65, with similar trends globally. Such rapid growth presents opportunities and challenges for designing technologies to support adults as they age. Researchers are optimistic about conversational technologies as tools to support older adults’ informational needs. However, ethical questions about using conversational systems in critical health contexts and for social companionship remain.

In this talk, I will discuss my ongoing research about the role of conversational technologies for aging and ethical dilemmas older adults encounter with (1) using voice assistants to search for health information, (2) AI-generated health reports, and (3) longitudinally use of a voice-based community. Findings suggest researchers need to (1) go beyond health technologies to support aging populations and (2) design conversational systems in ways that promote agency, transparency, and empower older adults.

About the Presenter: Robin Brewer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Her research lies at the intersection of accessibility and social computing where she studies how older adults and disabled people engage with technology, leveraging strengths of these communities to design for creativity, expression, and agency. Robin received her Ph.D. in Technology and Social Behavior from Northwestern University. Her research has been supported by Google, NIH, the Retirement Research Foundation, and the Department of Transportation.