Monday, 4 February 2013

Married in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Hark!  Do I hear the pitter, patter of little speed daters? Or maybe the aftermath of speed dating?  I am a great believer that nothing worthwhile happens in a hurry, even raising the birth rate in the Republic.

But the pace of everything in Singapore is just that much faster than many other parts of the world and so it comes as no surprise to learn that a masquerade ball, organised by the Social Development Network (SDN), has broken a world record for having the most number of singles participating in a speed-dating activity in one place.

One is reminded of the 1693 quotation by William Congreve who said "Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure: Married in haste, we may repent at leisure."

Old William would clearly not have approved of speed-dating, but England in the 17th Century was not desperately trying to boost its population.

A recent White Paper by the government suggests that Singapore's population could could well hit 6 million by 2020.  Most Singaporeans' would much prefer that this growth occurred through an increased fertility rate amongst native born Singaporeans, rather than the import of foreign nationals who threaten to swamp the indigenous culture of modern Singapore.

Compounding the planners' misery is the knowledge that Singapore's population is an aging one; a trend that is global and not confined to the Little Red Dot.

Singapore’s first cohort of baby boomers turned 65 last year reports Bloomberg, and its number of elderly will triple to 900,000 by 2030

Enter stage left, Eric - the Elderly Rehabilitative Interactive Companion robotic dog. Eric's battery-driven role in life is to help the elderly stay active and ease the boredom on therapeutic exercise.

This is not the first example of warm, furry robotic motivating and entertaining the elderly.  The Japanese were amongst the first to trial this approach and they have a high-tech baby seal called Paro which was originally developed in 2003.

The inventors claim that their robotic animal "allows the documented benefits of animal therapy to be administered to patients in environments such as hospitals and extended care facilities where live animals present treatment or logistical difficulties. Paro can learn to behave in a way that the user prefers, and to respond to its new name"

Who would have thought that Furby would have morphed into something like this?

Maybe the answer lies in the invention of a speed-dating robot which can relieve the mother-in-law  and government pressures that many younger Singaporean women face.
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