Science Fiction #2


Alice woke up in a strange room. The window drapes were open, and morning sunlight was streaming in softly. As she looked around, the TV on the console came to life, and a friendly middle-aged face looked back at her.

“Good morning, Alice, it’s Tuesday, the 16th of July, the year is twenty seventy-four” the face in the TV said, and the date flashed on the screen below her chin.

“Where am I, Diane?” Alice asked. She called the lady in the TV Diane when she was calm, Dinah when she was upset, and Hey you! when she couldn’t remember.

“You’re visiting your son, Sam, and this is his house. Mark, his son, is six years old, and his wife is Joanna; she’s a writer.”

“Yes, I remember that,” Alice said with a hint of impatience as she made her way to the bathroom to wash and get ready. “What are the plans for today?”

“You don’t remember?” the lady in the TV said with smile. “You’re visiting the dock to see the fish being brought in. Wear something cool and colorful with your sandals and bring a large hat.”

Alice got dressed as suggested, and took her medicine when she saw the pillbox on her dressing table. She still could remember to do some things without Diane’s reminders, as she was only in the early stages of dementia. She took her bluetooth earpiece off the charger and put it to her ear, and switched it on. Diane’s voice came on in her ear. “Bluetooth power on. Ready to face the world, Alice?”

“Let’s go,” said Alice, and she opened the door.

__________________________________________

I hope when my time comes, the technology is ready. Caregiving is a hard task, and caregivers have their own lives to live too. Technology can help facilitate daily living for those who are starting to forget, so that the caregivers do not have to be there every single minute.

Much of the technology is already there, but it is not yet put together:

  • there are electronic calendars to remind us what to do. I not only schedule daily tasks, but annual check-ups and payments too. The calendar reminds me when birthdays are coming up, or when the car tune-up is due.
  • voice recognition software has improved rapidly in the last few years, and although not quite ideal yet, it can only get better with time.
  • computer search engines are so good they can guess what you are searching for with just a few hints. Coupled with voice recognition, computers will soon be able to anticipate our needs and respond accordingly
  • computers have shrunk and many of us use our handphones as mini PCs. We can carry the computing power with us in pockets and handbags, and connect to it verbally and aurally via earpieces.

In the above story, Alice is only in the early stages of dementia. I will write more stories of how technology might help those in the later stages… another day.

 

I am trying to write a series of short fiction. For the previous story, click below:

Science Fiction #1

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14 thoughts on “Science Fiction #2”

  1. Very thought provoking. I look forward to the day where technology will do those things mentioned. Allowing for more independence in the early stages and respite for the caregiver.I look forward to more on this subject.

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  2. I really like this. Very practical science fiction!
    I wonder if with Siri on the iPhone if an app can be developed. I don’t have an iPhone but have been thinking about it (I almost never use my current cell phone which is so old the battery lasts for about 5 minutes). I have a Galaxy Tab, which is kind of knock off of the iPad. It has voice recognition and does my Google searches really well. It seems to be about 98% accurate,

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    1. Oh yes, Siri is really the harbinger of what might be. Having tried out Siri, I find it is not quite there yet. But using voice to dial the phone, and conduct searches is moving in the right direction.

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    1. Thank you for reminding me about Big Brother! Yes, we are tracked all the time, in our cars, by our credit cards, our handphones, street cameras with facial recognition…. the list goes on and on.
      Maybe we should educate tertiary students about dementia patients and their needs – they might just come up with the most elegant innovations.

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  3. Diana/Dinah is a useful person for reminders…how is she at listening to memories, emotions, this and that? And how do her hands feel when they touch Alice’s? My sister, a massage therapist, used to do hand massages on our father when he was no longer able to remember that he had practically disowned her, hadn’t seen her in years, and never met her teenaged children.

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    1. Ah no, technology will never replace the human touch and interaction, it can only be an aid.
      Thank you for sharing that memory of your father and sister. There’s a rich story in there. I wonder what was going through his mind.

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  4. I believe the technology will be a good addition, especially when the caregiver has been worn to a frazzle. So much we take for granted today is what has allowed our loved ones the chance to live a longer life, so I think it is all something worth looking at. I know if it becomes my turn I’d be very happy to have a deep manly voice greet me in the morning…lol.

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    1. Ah yes, I almost put the male voice in! Maybe I should have. Another idea was to embed the voice into a robotic cat or dog or Jiminy Cricket. The Japanese already use some kind of robots to look after old folk. Will research some more.

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    1. Some day I would pitch it to technology students and researchers. The problem will be finding candidates to test it out. No one in Singapore has come forward saying he/ she has early dementia. Not yet anyway.
      I imagine the solution will be sold first as a smart secretary to high flying executives. “The concierge in your pocket or ear”, and slowly it might evolve to help others as well, including those with early dementia. If it is marketed as a product for dementia, it will never take off. That’s just my opinion.

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    1. I am still puzzling over this! What if Alice forgets all the instructions she has been given just seconds ago? What if she cannot understand? The computer program will just have to evolve with her understanding. Will sleep on it.

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