[LMB] Dementia

A. Marina Fournier saffronrose at me.com
Mon Dec 13 21:01:43 GMT 2021

On Dec 13, 2021, at 12:23 PM, Joel Polowin <jpolowin at hotmail.com> wrote:
> There is a thing that I want to exist.  I don't have the skills to do
> it, nor the spoons to try to organize it.
> it's almost always possible to hear someone yelling in some nearby
> room, and clearly suffering from some kind of dementia.  They don't
> understand where they are, much less why they're there.  A nurse can try
> to re-orient them, but that only lasts a few minutes, since they can't
> retain the information.

> One time, my sweetie was sharing her room with an extremely frail old
> woman, who kept calling out to "Margaret" in her weak whispery voice.
> "Is my oxygen on?  Margaret?  Are you there?  Is my oxygen okay?"  It
> was heartbreaking.  (Notwithstanding that my twisted brain immediately
> jumped to "Are you there, Margaret?  It's me, God.") 

Know the reference!

> It occurred to me that what she *really* needed was some kind of
> automated system that would recognize the spoken word "oxygen" and tell
> her that it was fine.
> And from there came the idea.  A voice recognition, or speech
> recognition, that could parse what such a patient was saying, just
> enough to pick out a few words or phrases, and reply with reassurance.
> "Where am I?"  or "What's going on?" could respond with "You're in
> the hospital and you're going to be okay."  Do it with the voice of a
> loved one, recorded for the purpose.  Parsing the voice of a patient
> would be complicated by the difficulty of getting consistent sound, the
> impossibility of doing "training" of the system with a standard set of
> phrases, and poor enunciation on the part of the patient.  The problem
> would be simplified by not needing to recognize a large vocabulary;
> it wouldn't necessarily even need to pick out *words* as long as sound
> patterns were consistent enough -- if a mumbled "oxygen" always sounds
> about the same, it would be enough to recognize the sound pattern.

My husband’s a senior architect on the Siri team. Let me run your email by him.

It may be possible—and certainly marketable—to have a specially programmed Home Pod (at least) for this application.

> It shouldn't require fancy hardware, by current standards.  This is
> basically an audible version of the old "Eliza" programs: scan the
> input for patterns, and choose a stock sound clip to play in response.
> There's no great AI leap needed.  It seems to me that it should be
> possible to run it on a fairly cheap phone, tablet, or laptop.
> It would save a lot of effort on the part of nurses, and others who have
> to care for people with severe dementia.  It would also provide a great
> deal of comfort to the patients.  I've run the idea past nurses, and
> they love it.  My sweetie, a dementia specialist herself, thinks it's
> a great idea.  She thinks it might be possible to get funding for the
> development from Alzheimer's and other dementia foundations.  I'd like
> to see the thing available for free, at least as far as the software
> goes, and working on as many different platforms as possible.  Make it
> as available as possible for people who don't have a lot of resources.

Joel, you are a humanitarian genius!

> Basically, I'd like to hand the idea off to someone
> who will recognize it as being in the public interest, and get it done.

You might send a physical letter to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.
1 Apple Park Way
Cupertino CA 95014

Why? Wikipedia says:
Cook was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, an incident he said made him "see the world in a different way". He has since taken part in charity fundraising, such as cycle races to raise money for the disease. He later told the Auburn alumni magazine that his symptoms came from "lugging a lot of incredibly heavy [physical?] luggage around".
Cook has said that in 2009 he offered a portion of his liver to Jobs, as they shared a rare blood type. Cook said that Jobs responded by yelling, "I'll never let you do that. I'll never do that."
I think he might find it worth pursuing. You might mention you are acquainted with Siri Team Sr Architect Kurt Piersol’s wife, who suggested you contact him.

Again, Joel, you are a humanitarian genius.

A. Marina Fournier
saffronrose at me.com
Je persisterai quand même, car j’ais survécu d’être née
Valley of Heart’s Delight. CA
Sent from iFionnghuala

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list