Response by Bruce Buchanan:
Robots in the household seem like a very good thing to me, even including some of the duties of home nursing and child care. They need to be smarter and more autonomous than the Rhoomba vacuum cleaner, of course. But there are many jobs that involve monitoring, reminding, and fetching that we now hire low-paid care givers for, which could be performed by robots 24x7, with fewer problems of calling in sick, stealing valuables, and abusing the elderly.
Human caregivers are certainly capable of human empathy in ways that robots are not. But finding enough people of quality for these jobs is a problem. Why not give each of them a team of pretty-capable robots to work one-on-one with nursing home patients or kids for continuous watching & interaction, with the fully capable person checking up on the quality of care? Will robots make mistakes (e.g., allow taking, or even actively giving, the wrong medication)? Sure, but so do human caregivers. Intelligent machines can be programmed to make fewer mistakes than the worst care givers, and maybe no more than the best.
We would all like to be cared for by someone as caring as our own grandmothers, as attentive as our spouses (well, maybe more so), and as knowledgeable as our personal physicians. This just won't happen. So how can we couple the empathy of a good person with the attention and knowledge-processing of a machine? We won't really know until we try various ways.