Making robots our friends who truly support our lives is a challenge, claims Britt Östlund
Meet Britt Östlund, Professor and Head of Division of Technology in Health Care at KTH. Britt is also an Associate Director, Societal Engagement and Co-PI of research project Advanced Adaptive Intelligent Systems (AAIS) at Digital Futures.
Hi Britt Östlund, describe your role at Digital Futures?
– I am part of the Executive Committee with special responsibility for Social outreach. This is a task that will grow as new knowledge develops about how digitalization transform people’s everyday lives. In a few years’ time, I would like to see an active and lively discussion that includes both researchers, politicians and citizens.
We have started a collaboration with the City of Stockholm on their strategy for an Age Friendly City and we also have the project Digital Futures for Later Life in Stockholm where a group of life-experienced people are currently working out recommendations for a good digital life during the second half of life.
Tell us a bit about your long-time experience in research and what motivates you as a researcher?
– Starting up with a PhD in Technology and social change at Linköping University Sweden (1995) I am still dedicated to research and development in aging, technology and design, today focusing digitalization of home health care and services. I want to help contextualize technology and increase users’ influence over the organization and design of products and systems.
Over the years, I have collaborated with a number of stakeholders, especially companies and Swedish municipalities and always at technical faculties. In Lund I was responsible for the Aging and design program and now at KTH, digitalization is in focus. I was part of the first European initiative in the early 1990s to build the International Society for Gerontechnology. Although user representations of people in general and especially old people are still waiting to be updated properly, I see a positive development in terms of interest in contextualizing technology in people’s living environments.
Finally, tell us a little bit about yourself! Any research dreams?
– Making robots our friends who truly support our lives is a challenge. I would like to see socially adapted, beautiful and cuddly robots in the home and transparent and understandable systems that contribute to increased health and well-being.
Photo of Britt Östlund: Mikael M Johansson