If Care Homes were as productive as car plants, they could lower costs to the point where every old person could expect an affordable and superior level of intimate care until death.
Whereas at the moment ...
It is tempting to think that we're currently stuck - waiting for Google to invent that fusion of AI and robotics which would automate the Care Home worker at significantly lower marginal cost.
If that's so, we may be waiting a while yet.
But perhaps that's the wrong way to think about it ... ?
We talked about it on the way back from Waitrose.
"One of those trick questions they give beginning students of Automation AI: 'How would you design an AI system to paint a car on the production line?'"
Snorts. "Just dip it."
"Yep, absolutely on the right track. The students start talking about cameras, computer vision to steer the paint nozzles. Trying to reproduce a human on the job.
"At this point the lecturer takes pity and explains that the car is simply pinioned to a defined position by side-pommels while the robot paint-sprayer follows a blind, predetermined trajectory. It's considerably easier and cheaper."
"I had that idea already, about a kind of tipper-chair which could give an old person a bath ..."
"We could think of a Care Home as a car assembly-line for people. But here's another idea. The state-of-the-art chicken abattoir is entirely mechanised. Each chicken is stunned, hung upside-down, has its throat cut, bleeds out, is defeathered, eviscerated and steam-cleaned. Finally it's packed ready to be sent off to Waitrose."
"Brilliant idea. I can see how that might work as an inspiration for Care Homes. Could be a bit of a PR problem ..."
... But don't let me put you off a bit of lateral thinking.