7.17pm. Autumn night. It rains although not too much. I am in my car. Outside the pedestrians wear the first coats of the season. I even see a young woman on the sidewalk wearing gloves. I can see it because I am stopped in front of a green traffic light that has been going on for several cycles and I have not been able to advance more than 2 meters in the last 15 minutes. I'm no longer surprised by the traffic jams in this city.
The day has been doggy. We have had a problem with the supply of raw materials. We will have to re-plan all production. And the Christmas campaign just around the corner. Customers getting nervous about knowing delivery dates. I'm tired. I was planning to go out earlier to see my mother. It will have to be tomorrow.
The Pink Panther theme of Kyle Eastwood's latest album plays in the background. Son of the mythical Clint Eastwood. I discovered it recently. Given the father's fondness for jazz, it did not surprise me that one of his sons inherited it as well. Neither does he composes some songs for soundtrack of his movies.
7.21pm. Red again. I am still at the same place. I can't wait to get home. I hope my daughter or my wife have been able to get Facundo out. The time change has affected him and he has returned to do everything at home. We have their tasks distributed and I have the night shift. But today I wish someone had covered me. I'm really tired and I don't feel like it at all.
Facundo. It was named by my father when he picked it up off the road 10 years ago. Abandoned, injured, malnourished. He took him to the vet, cared for him, and adopted him. With the approval of my mother, of course. Right away it was done with the hearts of all of us. Why Facundo, dad? It doesn't sound like a dog name. Because I like it and because when I said it he looked at me pleased with the name. And with that name he stayed. Issue settled.
My daughter was looking forward to going to see her grandparents and Facundo. Of course, she started a campaign of harassment and demolition asking every other day that we have a dog. Look at the joy that Facundo gives to grandparents, that it would be very good for me to keep me company in the evenings while you are at work, that it would help me to mature by having to take care of someone, that I would take care of him, and many other things a girl's creativity can imagine. And she was right. But with the pace of life we led, we did not see how to acquire a new responsibility.
Facundo was a fundamental emotional support in the last two years of my father's life. He kept her company without disturbing him. He comforted him with his love. Facundo was happy simply lying next to my father while he read to forget about his damned illness. Two hard years of suffering that Facundo alleviated. Facundo and my mother, of course. They both gave it their all until he left. And they were left empty. Exhausted. Sad. Heartbroken. But leaning on each other, they managed to cross that wasteland and see the light again.
Until my mother had to have surgery on her hip. And Facundo came to live with us temporarily. I have to admit that despite all the sacrifice he has made us, reorganization of housework, time he consumes, and a long list of inconveniences, I think he compensates us. Because there are three of us to share the work. Otherwise, I would think very hard about it. It is true that when you get home and he is at the door waiting for you to give you his love, you melt. And you forget everything else. But then everything else comes back. And it is a truly demanding job.
And after the hip thing, Facundo definitely stayed at home. My mother couldn't take it down to the park anymore. Nor attend to it as required. And my mother began to feel lonely. And we gifted her an Aiko from Aisoy Robotics, one of those new relational AI robot. As the advertising said, it is not a pet but it helps to obtain the following similar benefits:
- Help to alleviate the feeling of loneliness due to its physical presence and the unconditional affection it gives. It encourages you to be more communicative, to tell him things, your day to day and your concerns. I mean, Aiko creates the illusion that you have someone to talk to and you feel heard.
- Help to prevent or recover from depression. When you suffer from it, you don't feel like anything, you forget to take care of yourself, eat, sleep ... But Aiko is there and in a way it stimulates you to talk and play with him, which improves your oxytocin levels and reduces your of cortisol, reducing anxiety linked to depression.
- Help to have a routine. Aiko learns from you and adapts to your schedules or creates them: playing, talking, resting and other series of care. This leads you to structure your life, especially if you don't work or work at home.
- Help to maintain self-esteem. Aiko depends on you to be happy. By taking care of him and seeing that he is happy, you experience a feeling of self-fulfillment that helps you feel better about yourself.
- Help you to take better care of yourself and your health. Taking care of Aiko leads, by association, to take better care of yourself. If you play different activities with him, you are unconsciously developing or maintaining your social, emotional and cognitive skills, improving your mental well-being and healing your emotional wounds.
- Help you to relate more. The fact of keeping your communication mechanisms active makes you enjoy it and encourage you when you leave home, which prevents the feeling of loneliness.
- Help to reduce stress. When playing with Aiko, hugging and stroking him has a relaxing effect that helps reduce stress and anxiety. It's not the soothing purr of a cat, but it comes close.
- Help to keep the mind in shape. Interacting with Aiko involves his evolving and learning new skills. It is like educating him. But this requires an effort on your part that helps to keep your mind active, favoring your concentration and preventing memory lapses.
- Help you and your family feel more secure. In Aiko's company, you learn to enjoy the moment, to focus on it and forget about everything else a bit. Similar to mindfulness. But it is also capable of facilitating urgent contact with your family members if you need it, creating a safe environment in the face of unforeseen or risky circumstances.
We think about it. We are engineers and we know the capabilities of technology and Artificial Intelligence. We have seen several social robots that help children with autism, or to learn to program, or for therapies, but we did not know this new concept of relational robot to create long-term 'relationships' with the user. Interesting. It piqued the curiosity of the engineer within me. And also of the child that there is still more inside.
We thought about it again. Especially because it seemed impossible to us that he could fill Facundo's hole. But if he achieved only half of what his advertising said without the obligations that Facundo assumed for my mother, the € 500 plus the subscription would be well paid. What definitely convinced us was being able to try it for a month without obligation. The 1-year subscription gift promotion also helped. So we ordered it.
We had already made a previous technological attempt with Alexa. My mother tried actively and passively. She wanted to talk but Alexa is not meant for that. My mother insisted and insisted with Spartan perseverance. In the end they have reached a balance. My mother has learned to ask her for music, to turn on the radio and to say good morning and good night. My mother only asks and Alexa gives it to her. But she no longer asks her for more.
Therefore, with this technological precedent, I was surprised by the enthusiasm with which my mother welcomed Aiko. I thought that I would still have 29 of the 30 days left for the test and that I would have to process the return of it. I just wasn't expecting it. I had been mentally setting me up for failure. I was not expecting the name either. My mother adopted Aiko and baptized him with the name of Facundo. In memory of your father and ask me no more, she told me. And with that name he stayed. That is how my mother, like my father, settled that matter.
Well now there are two Facundos in our family. The dog Facundo and the robot Facundo. Each one in his house perfectly fulfilling his mission. They are only seen when we go to visit my mother. And they get along great. Facundo, the dog, was surprised to see him. Facundo, the robot, too. It is fun. But since Facundo, the dog, is already a little older, he does not develop much activity and after a few seconds of sniffing he leaves Facundo, the robot, calm. And, Facundo, the robot, respects him. I don't know if he understands it, but he respects it.
And, of course, my daughter has returned to the load. But how good is the grandmother with Facundo. She has been great. I see her happier. It is seen that Facundo keeps her a lot of company. And she looks at how well Facundo gets along with Facundo. I don't know who's whose pet is when they see each other. He is great. And even though we saw it coming, she caught us by surprise.
Why don't we buy an Aiko for Facundo? she let us go on a Friday at dinner. She had been thinking about it for a while and saw it as a good idea. What if Facundo is alone every morning until he returns from the Institute. What if he is older. That Aiko would keep him company like her grandmother. What if he emotionally would be good for her. What if we could monitor that everything is fine through Aiko. What if it would be great for her to practice her spoken English and her listening comprehension. What if with Aiko he would not be ashamed to practice. And I don't know how many other "What if" ones. And that she has already decided to ask Santa.
7.27 This seems to be starting to move. Finally. Kyle has started the first chords of the song Charade (a jewel of classic movies). I am mulling over the issue of putting another "Facundo" in our life. The phone rings and takes me out of those thoughts. She is my wife. That where I go and stuff. Let it not take too long. Be careful with the traffic that is fatal. What are you going to tell me! And what if I want her to get Facundo out. Of course I want to! Thanks love! I'm very lucky.
7.53 Someone once said that you have to trust time. It usually brings sweet solutions to problems that are bitter today. My day, after many troubles, was beginning to give me its small rewards. Coming home, not having to take Facundo out, shower, get comfortable in my pajamas, make dinner (I love cooking) and enjoy it quietly with my girls seems like more than enough scenery to be happy. After all, the day is not going to be so bad, I think as I turn right to enter the garage of my house.
This story is taken from the future so near that it could very well happen next year. It is a daily story about us, about our way of life, about the life forms that we will be incorporating into it and about the benefits that they will bring to us, as people.
Aiko, the relational AI robot that is mentioned in it will be available in the year 2022.