"‘Robot & Frank,’ and Technology and Aging"
I’m quite looking forward to Robot & Frank, a story about an aging jewel thief and the robot he’s given to keep him company, not just because of the absurdly terrific cast, or the fact that it’s near-future science fiction, which tends to employ small changes rather than broad metaphors, to sharp effect:
Robot & Frank is a case where the scenario in which the technology’s being employed—to resume Frank’s heist career, and get revenge on the tech nerds who are taking over the local library—is actually more baroque than the technology itself. Japanese companies have long been at work developing robots to assist in many aspects of elder care. Technology companies depend on our ability to develop low-level emotional bonds with technology ranging from Roombas, which act as surrogate pets, to Apple’s Siri voice technology. And the continued work and social lives of aging people, as well as elder care, are major issues that Hollywood almost never has the courage to touch, much less approach from the perspective of people who are aging rather than the younger people who will take lessons from them. I’m almost as excited for a thoughtful, funny, fully human story about retirees as I am to see a movie about robots.