Fan Wang about her PhD work

Fan Wang about her PhD work

“My overarching goal is to empower designers of social robots with the tools necessary to create genuinely beneficial technologies for those with dementia by integrating technology with empathy and ethical responsibility.”

Fan Wang tells us about her compelling research journey, delving into the nuanced realm of human-robot interaction within the context of dementia. What if social robots could potentially deceive individuals through subtle nonverbal cues? And what if these users are already grappling with cognitive decline due to dementia?

What if there is a possibility that people could be deceived by social robots through their nonverbal cues? What if the users are people with dementia who already suffer from deterioration in cognitive function?

Social robots are considered an effective way to improve the quality of life and psychological well-being of people with dementia. However, this also introduces ethical complexities, particularly regarding the potential for deceptive interactions. My research aims to explore which types of deception could be ethically acceptable and beneficial, and how designers can thoughtfully incorporate these considerations when designing robots for people with dementia.

During the initial months of my PhD, I engaged deeply with this topic through my participation in the HOMEDEM Training School at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), where I met many researchers dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of people with dementia. Additionally, a doctoral course, Ethics of AI, hosted by the Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW), the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology, and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), expanded my understanding of ethical issues pertaining to Artificial Intelligence. Visits to care homes and engagement in the daily lives of people with dementia have provided invaluable firsthand insights into the realities and challenges faced by them, solidifying my commitment to this research direction.

My overarching goal is to empower designers of social robots with the tools necessary to create genuinely beneficial technologies for those with dementia by integrating technology with empathy and ethical responsibility.