Picture of robot toy on Scrabble board

There can be something a little creepy about robots roaming down hospital corridors that are responsible for human lives. But they are already part of our medical world: While some service robots dispense medications and food, newer therapeutic models (such as Huggable) are designed to comfort sick children.

“We’re interacting with machines on a daily basis and they’re changing our understanding of ourselves,” according to CHS professor Dr. William Davis, “This is especially evident in the health sciences; for instance, elderly patients have carebots that they view as pets, while young patients are coaxed out of anxiety by bots that make them happy.”

It’s this philosophical distinction between humanist and post humanist perspectives that fuels Davis’ research agenda about artificial agents that interact with humans. He notes that our definitions of morality now include thinking of the environment and non-human animals as valuable beings.

Davis is currently including current issues of technology and culture in his teaching of PHLT 420, a Pre-Medical Post-Bac class about Biopsychosocial Framework for the Health Professions. His next course, Oral Communication, will also investigate how we are connected (writing, speaking, ways we organize facts) with technology as extensions of ourselves.

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