Millennial Parents Show Growing Trust in AI, Robotics for Health Care
October 28, 2019      

A new study published today by IEEE shows a growing confidence among Millennial parents in using artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, including robotics, for the health and wellness of their children. But the study also showed a reluctance in confidence among U.S. and U.K. parents, at least when compared to parents in China and India.

Born between 2010 through 2025, the so-called “Generation Alpha” of children are considered the most tech-infused demographic, and their parents are usually in the Millennial generation. The IEEE report, titled “Generation AI 2019: Third Annual Study of Millennial Parents and Generation Alpha Kids”, was a study of 2,000 parents between the ages of 23-38 years old, with at least one child nine years old or younger. Respondents (400 each) were from the U.S., U.K., India, China, and Brazil.

The report, which can be viewed here, highlighted several areas in which parents have confidence about AI and emerging technologies, including:

Surgical robots

Millennial parents in Asia are significantly more likely to allow robots powered by AI to conduct surgery on their Generation Alpha child – even more so this year compared to the 2018 results. Parents in China showed the highest confidence (94% in 2019 vs. 82% in 2018), followed by parents in India (86% in 2019 vs. 78% in 2018).

In the U.S. and U.K., however, there seems to be more doubt – only 46% of U.S. Millennial parents would allow surgical robots to operate on their children (a 1% increase over 2018); in the U.K., 51% said this was OK (up 6% from 2018). In Brazil, 69% of Millennial parents would allow surgical robots, compared to 60% in 2018).

3D-printed hearts

When asked whether they would be very comfortable allowing a properly tested/fully functional 3D-printed heart to be implanted in their child if needed in the future, answers were split again by geography. In China, 94% of parents said they would be very comfortable, followed by India (92%), Brazil (75%), the U.K. (60%), and the U.S. (52%).

VR medication therapy

A significant majority of Millennial parents across each region surveyed said they would prefer their pediatrician to recommend VR pain therapy instead of medication to alleviate their child’s pain (China: 97%; India: 96%; Brazil: 90%; U.K.: 82%; and U.S.: 79%). However, these attitudes dropped a bit when asked whether they “strongly prefer” their pediatrician recommend VR pain therapy.

AI nursing

The East/West split can be seen again in a question around telehealth, AI and remote monitoring technologies that are helping nursing expand care beyond in-person bedside monitoring. Parents in the U.S. (67%) and U.K. (57%) said they would not be very comfortable leaving their child in the care of an AI-powered virtual nurse during a hospital stay. Yet a majority of Millennial parents in China (88%), India (83%) and Brazil (61%) said they would be very comfortable leaving their child at the hospital in the care of an AI-powered virtual nurse.

Self-driving school buses

While several autonomous technologies are being deployed or tested for self-driving buses, the Millennial parents are split again on how likely they would be to allow their child to take such transportation, even if tested as safe and staffed by a “caretaker robot”. In the U.S., 58% of parents and 51% of U.K. parents said they are not very likely to allow their child to take a self-driving bus to school. A clear majority of parents in China (91%), India (87%) and Brazil (67%) said they are very likely to allow their child to take a self-driving bus to school.

The study covered a lot of other technologies, including machine learning to help doctors diagnose rare diseases, sensor technologies that can monitor biometrics such as weight, blood pressure and heart rate, and using AI in order to live independently as people get older. Responses to those questions and other data can be viewed here at the IEEE report website.