The above videosketch is presented as an interview with the maker of the robot. The robot is not present in the interview, but one still gets a nice insight into the issues regarding a modern Kevorkian Machine as well as the functions of it.
Behind the modern Kevorkian Machine
The original assignment was to design a robot, which could assist elderly people. Robots are such a divisive topic for people. Some are scared of Terminators, while others would love to have a Jetsons-like robot at home. Robots, even concepts, are great for creating a debate. We wanted to do just that. We wanted to provoke people into discussing euthanasia. We wanted to create a modern Kevorkian machine. This is why we created the Euthanabot – The Robot of a Good Death.
Unfortunately the videosketch is in danish, but I have prepared a transcript of the video in English below.
Interviewer: Welcome to “Good morning, Denmark”. Today we’re going to talk to a scientist who has been developing a robot which can assist in euthanasia. Welcome, Henrik Vilstrup.
Interviewee: Thank you.
Interviewer: You have chosen to call the robot Euthanabot, which in greek means “The Robot of a good death”. Can you tell us something about the name?
Interviewee: As Jack Kevorkian did in the 1990’s, we believe in the autonomous human. We believe that humans, by means of technology, can control their own fate. But beyond that people are also driven by empathy, something which we do not find in any other creature on this blue planet of ours. Kevorkian himself lived in a time, where technology was facilitating euthanasia. We believe that we have now come to the point where it is up to the individiual itself. Doctors can no longer be held responsible; only the individual “pushing the button”. Even though there are no buttons on the robot. Doctors are meant to save lives, so we cannot ask them to assist in death as well.
Interviewer: So can you tell us a bit about how it works exactly?
Interviewee: Well, the robot has a number of functions. It can communicate through text, but also by speech. The robot does not take a stand on death, and it does not try to deter the individual from making the final decision. A robot, when compared to a human, can be 100% objective. The robot merely asks questions, so that the individual is asked to at least consider the decision. But there is no magic password. You don’t simply say “I’m tired of living” or “My time has come”. When the individual has taken the decision, it IS possible to take the next step.
The robot is also connected to the database of the particular hospice in which the person is admitted. It has access to every single file concerning the patient. This makes it possible for the robot to administer the perfect dosage for a peaceful and calm departure.
Interviewer: You mentioned it taking place in a hospice. Does this mean that it is not meant for hospitals?
Interviewee: Yes. It is not a suicide-robot. It is only meant for people whose passing is already forthcoming. It is meant as a solution to a moral, political, legal and even economical dilemma. When one is in a hospice both family, friends and the individual itself is aware of what’s coming. Euthanabot is able to give back control to those who have lost it; the terminally ill.
Interviewer: I think that was all the time we had today. Thank you so much for stopping by.
Interviewee: Thank you for having me.
To sum up the entire project, I tell you this:
Greatly inspired by Jack Kevorkian, this robot is able to ensure a peaceful departure from the world. A departure completely in your own control.
More Kevorkian for the curious soul
- If you’re interested in more Kevorkian-knowledge, I have a couple of recommendations for you.
- You can watch the Al Pacino-starring movie ‘You don’t know Jack’ about Kevorkian and his life.
- Or you can pop over to Wikipedia for more public encyclopedic knowledge: Wikipedia – Jack Kevorkian
- If you’re still not satisfied, then how about listening to some of Kevorkian’s jazz records, while reading part 1 of an article about him published in 1997? [Detroit Free Press]