The dangers of “workism”

After basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January, ABC’s Good Morning America played a clip from an interview in which he had discussed his life after retiring from the sport. In it, he said how important it is to recognize the “difference between doing what you do versus understanding that that is not who you are.”

That’s a crucial lesson for people in all professions. Separating our sense of identity from our job helps us not just to better ourselves, but also to build stronger businesses and be better managers and colleagues.

Unfortunately, in the United States and many advanced economies around much of the world, work is perceived “as not only providing an income, but giving social legitimacy to our lives,” Tom Fryers, professor of public mental health at the University of Leicester, wrote in a paper published by the journal Clinical Practice & Epidemiology

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How Japan is creating opportunity for medtech

In nursing homes throughout Japan, an interactive, therapeutic robot is helping provide care to elderly residents. The robot’s name is Paro, and it looks like a baby harp seal, complete with fur, soulful eyes, and even whiskers. The technology inside Paro, which costs about US$3,800, is relatively simple: five sensors that pick up on touch, light, sound, heat, and posture. From that input, Paro recognizes people and their environment, and an AI component helps the device adapt to the preferences of its user. If you stroke Paro, it coos back at you, and it can learn over time to repeat the behaviors that led you to stroke it.

The idea of getting healthcare from a robot may seem to be the stuff of science fiction, but Paro is effective in calming elderly people with dementia and other cognitive disorders. A recent study found that loneliness rates decreased in a test

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