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Teaching With Robots

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the if-you-get-this-problem-wrong-bender-will-attack dept.

Robotics 69

theodp writes "If you're a math, CS, or engineering grad, odds are you've seen your share of robot-like teaching — but never an actual robot teacher. Now, that's starting to change. Computer scientists are developing robots with social components that can engage people and teach them simple skills, including household tasks, vocabulary, elementary imitation and taking turns. Several countries have been testing teaching machines in classrooms. At USC, researchers have had their robot, Bandit, interact with autistic children. South Korea is 'hiring' hundreds of robots as teacher aides and classroom playmates and is experimenting with robots that would teach English."

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69 comments

Kids need people, not robots (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 4 years ago | (#32867102)

I realise there seems to be a rather unhealthy obsession with robots in japan and korea but this is just going too far. You want some clunky pre-programmed robot to pander to your whims and stroke your ego - fine. But don't try the same shit with kids - its not fair. Get someone in to look after these children. If they're autistic they NEED to interact with people, not a glorified PC FFS.

advice from an autistic adult (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867162)

I'm autistic, and I can tell you the last thing autistic kids need teaching them how to act neurotypical is a robot mentor.

The dirty secret of Autism Speaks and just about everything else (such as the developers of these robots) is that they advocate for exhausted parents, annoyed relatives, and the profit motive of Western medicine; they don't do anything for actual autistic people.

www.autistics.org [autistics.org]

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32867322)

horses work [narha.org]
dogs work [askdebaboutautism.com]
cats work [about.com]

There are millions of animals that need a home - but that won't get research grants, and animals are "messy, disruptive, don't want them in a school or work environment".

Re:advice from an autistic adult (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867390)

You're missing the point, which is that autistic kids desperately need to learn the essential life skills of neurotypical small talk, gossip, mindless conformity, and tolerance of the harassment that "teasing" is - all things neurotypicals take for granted. You're suggesting I could have learned these things from a horse?

Also, for neurotypical parents and teachers, what "works" is what makes the child docile and compliant, not what actually produces happy, growing kids. Along those lines, ritalin (a methamphetamine derivative) "works" too. I will never forgive my parents, teachers, and childhood doctor for 20mg of meth a day for 2 years. It did just about what you'd expect.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#32867612)

Also, for neurotypical parents and teachers, what "works" is what makes the child docile and compliant, not what actually produces happy, growing kids. Along those lines, ritalin (a methamphetamine derivative) "works" too. I will never forgive my parents, teachers, and childhood doctor for 20mg of meth a day for 2 years. It did just about what you'd expect.

To quote Henry Rollins - "Fuuuuuuuuck!"

Your parents were more than likely following the advice of the "experts" - doctor and teachers (*snicker*). Even if you're as young as 18, there wasn't the huge outcry over medicating children like there is now. And there wasn't the internet to do some sort of research.

I'm assuming your parents weren't medical professionals. If they were, then your disgust is well placed.

You can be a wonderful advocate for kids with autism and all the other kids that are being drugged because they can't go and burn off they're energy on the playground during the recess - recesses that are no longer allowed because of ignorant and stupid school administrators and they're needle-pricked lawyers who are soooo terrified of lawsuits.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867736)

I'm assuming your parents weren't medical professionals. If they were, then your disgust is well placed.

No, they aren't doctors. Dad was a blue collar electrician and Mom was...well, she worked for the census in 1990 so she could buy a new sewing machine, followed by a series of similar unskilled clerical jobs.

You can be a wonderful advocate for kids with autism and all the other kids that are being drugged because they can't go and burn off their energy on the playground during the recess - recesses that are no longer allowed because of ignorant and stupid school administrators and their needle-pricked lawyers who are soooo terrified of lawsuits.

Autistic adults aren't advocates for anything because we aren't capable. We're materially not qualified.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

madddddddddd (1710534) | about 4 years ago | (#32871354)

Autistic adults aren't advocates for anything because we aren't capable. We're materially not qualified.

not to be a dick, but you were just an advocate for the belief that autistic adults are not qualified to be advocates.

even if you believe i shouldn't believe you or even listen to you, you're still being an advocate for wasting peoples' time.

do they teach autistic kids how to spell "hypocrisy"?

stop using your diagnosis as a crutch.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32871958)

You just demonstrated his point that he's an ineffective advocate. I don't think the word hypocrit means what you think it means.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | about 4 years ago | (#32872084)

so, if he is an advocate for the belief that autistic people are ineffective advocates, and he is ineffective at that role, then i should be left with the belief that autistic people are effective advocates, making him an effective advocate. if he is an ineffective advocate, that would make his advocacy about the belief that autistic people are ineffective advocates effective. this presents hypocrisy in the form of a person who acts in contradiction to their stated beliefs.

i don't think you know what most words mean.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32867828)

You're missing the point, which is that autistic kids desperately need to learn the essential life skills of neurotypical small talk, gossip, mindless conformity, and tolerance of the harassment that "teasing" is - all things neurotypicals take for granted. You're suggesting I could have learned these things from a horse?

Read the links. It works.

You'd be surprised what animals can teach us about human behaviour, as well as the skills they can help us acquire.

Even "neurotypicals" (to use your term) can benefit. Just having a dog sit in a corner doing nothing has been shown to make meetings more productive.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867934)

Read the links. It works.

You'd be surprised what animals can teach us about human behaviour, as well as the skills they can help us acquire.

Oh look, a curebie. How cute. Fuck you.

Even "neurotypicals" (to use your term) can benefit. Just having a dog sit in a corner doing nothing has been shown to make meetings more productive.

That you mock my use of the word neurotypical [wikipedia.org] is notably telling in regards to your actual depth of understanding of the subject at hand. I live it every moment of every day; how about you?

Re:advice from an autistic adult (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 years ago | (#32872018)

Friend of mine's autistic daughter learned a lot from horses.

No idea why it worked better than humans. I'm not autistic.

Perhaps it doesn't work for you or your child but it worked for her.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873160)

You're missing the point, which is that autistic kids desperately need to learn the essential life skills of neurotypical small talk, gossip, mindless conformity, and tolerance of the harassment that "teasing" is - all things neurotypicals take for granted. You're suggesting I could have learned these things from a horse?

I (not involved in the discussion thus far) am not qualified to judge that.

However, when faced with the choice of listening to someone who says "I'm suffering from X, therefore I'm an absolute authority on X and can never go wrong, and you must take everything I say as gospel" and someone who says "you know, I had this idea, but I didn't know whether it'd work... so I conducted a study to find out and published my results", I'm going to go with the latter.

I'm sure you'll understand that.

Re:advice from an autistic adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32875182)

However, when faced with the choice of listening to someone who says "I'm suffering from X, therefore I'm an absolute authority on X and can never go wrong, and you must take everything I say as gospel" and someone who says "you know, I had this idea, but I didn't know whether it'd work... so I conducted a study to find out and published my results", I'm going to go with the latter.

I'm sure you'll understand that.

I think I'd rather ask and listen to an autistic adult about what autistics need.

Show me the scientific study where a horse taught an autistic person small talk, gossip, mindless conformity, or tolerance of harassment.

No one is an absolute authority on anything, even the published scientists you prefer. That's an obvious straw man logical fallacy.

That's how we will colonize the galaxy (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32867416)

You need machine foster parents for what is, probably, the only plausible way of getting our asses out of this system, assuming technology that seems to be certainly within our range - embryo colonization [wikipedia.org] .

(yes, hibernation of a skeleton crew / very small group of initial settlers, with the main purpose of kickstarting the colony and the growth of stored embryos, might be close enough)

Re:That's how we will colonize the galaxy (1)

orkysoft (93727) | about 4 years ago | (#32870232)

Didn't you read Alastair Reynolds?

Re:That's how we will colonize the galaxy (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#32872686)

He's even mentioned at the Wiki page I linked to.

So?

Re:Kids need people, not robots (2, Interesting)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 4 years ago | (#32867470)

"Kids need people, not robots"

Going by apathy and inherent degeneracy of of many people today... most people are robots in one way or another - robots of ideology, political robots, robots of all types in society. Human beings are just "robots" made of meat. That may sound insulting but consider how poor most human thinking is on the whole and how long we've taken to even have progress in the most basic tasks of getting along with one another.

Quite frankly human beings over-estimate their importance in the large scheme of things, human beings have had millions of years to solve some of the most basic of problems that many of the good nerds(tm) on slashdot know of of not being prejudiced towards others and understanding the importance of subconscious biological processes that determine peoples fates, what they can perceive and even think about. Once you get deep into neurological science and biology of the nervous system you start to really develop a deep appreciation of how little human beings are in control of themselves and how automatic and "robotic", mindless and predictable a lot of their behavior really is.

Re:Kids need people, not robots (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#32867496)

"human beings have had millions of years to solve some of the most basic of problems that many of the good nerds(tm) on slashdot know of of not being prejudiced towards others and understanding the importance of subconscious biological processes that determine peoples fates, what they can perceive and even think about."

That this was not done argues no evolutionary pressure to do it.

Re:Kids need people, not robots (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 years ago | (#32867990)

Going by apathy and inherent degeneracy of of many people today... most people are robots in one way or another - robots of ideology, political robots, robots of all types in society. Human beings are just "robots" made of meat.

Which, while strictly speaking true of all imaginable beings, is also completely irrelevant for that very reason. The relevant question is: Can we build robots smart enough to take care of and monitor children?

That may sound insulting but consider how poor most human thinking is on the whole and how long we've taken to even have progress in the most basic tasks of getting along with one another.

Actually, it sounds like someone criticized or failed to convert to your pet ideology, or at least that's what these rants are usually caused by. Can't be libertarianism, since you'd use "sheep" rather than "robots" then, nor can it be a religion since then you'd emphasize how this shows "rebellion" rather than conformity...

Quite frankly human beings over-estimate their importance in the large scheme of things,

Okay, enlighten me: what is the large scheme of things, and what is my part in it?

If you can't answer those, you can't very well decide whether any idea I might have of my importance is over- or underestimated or just right.

Once you get deep into neurological science and biology of the nervous system you start to really develop a deep appreciation of how little human beings are in control of themselves and how automatic and "robotic", mindless and predictable a lot of their behavior really is.

I sincerely doubt that you have examined these deeply, for the simple reason that you seem to be advocating some strange form of dualism where your nervous system is somehow separate from you, and you are just a puppet to it.

To prove yourself wrong, simply drink a few pints of strong beer and notice how it affects you, rather than some entity distinct from you, thus proving that your nervous system isyou. Beer: the quick way to solve the mind-body problem and many other philosophical questions :).

Re:Kids need people, not robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32871894)

There's a question/saying in AA and it is;

Are you a human being or a human doing? I somehow thought it relevant

Re:Kids need people, not robots (2, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#32867706)

I'm sure the teacher's unions will bring some bullshit like this up.

At every opportunity, the educators I work with chose to plug kids into technology and set them on auto-teach. Sewing the seeds of their own destruction...but when tech starts to replace teachers, we'll hear them scream bloody murder with your argument.

Not fast enough (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 4 years ago | (#32867114)

I know researchers are doing their best but am I the only one who's really impatient for robots to begin integrating into society on a large scale? All we have so far outside of more progressive factories is a few tens of lab robots, floor cleaners, and lawn mowers. where's my robot maid dammit? why aren't robots fully integrated into the McDonald's supply chain reducing the price of my burger to 50 cents? Where are the road laying robots? where's my robochauffeur?

Whoa, wait a minute... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867158)

With unemployment as high as it is, you want to replace all remaining human occupied jobs with robots? What is wrong with you.

Can Robots Shove Cheese Up Their Noses? (1)

theodp (442580) | about 4 years ago | (#32867256)

Perhaps the poster is still reeling from this YouTube video [adage.com] ...

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (2, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | about 4 years ago | (#32867302)

With unemployment as high as it is, you want to replace all remaining human occupied jobs with robots? What is wrong with you.

Maybe we could rethink society [wikipedia.org] so we don't have to do things machines could, and still not starve.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 4 years ago | (#32867446)

People need more than just food and water. If you don't understand that then theres no hope for you.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874020)

That's right. They need food, water and porn. Porn could be replaced by sex-bots though.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 years ago | (#32868032)

Maybe we could rethink society so we don't have to do things machines could, and still not starve.

Yes, but such suggestions [marshallbrain.com] would mean that the rich could no longer lord it over the poor, and thus are a form of communism, and thus are evil. Why do you hate freedom so much?

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 4 years ago | (#32868426)

Interesting link, but that article is more communist than smart. If I work my whole life to gather stuff for my family and am successful at it, what gives "Us, The People" the right to take those away when I die?

This proposal, as implemented, would only leave boredom as a motivator to do anything. Profit would certainly not be involved.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 years ago | (#32869168)

Interesting link, but that article is more communist than smart. If I work my whole life to gather stuff for my family and am successful at it, what gives "Us, The People" the right to take those away when I die?

My point exactly. Any attempt to counteract wealth concentration is by necessity taking stuff away from the haves, and not doing so means that the have-nots are screwed. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

This proposal, as implemented, would only leave boredom as a motivator to do anything. Profit would certainly not be involved.

Any proposal that grants people freedom when there's artificial intelligence results in that. And that's just fine with me. If robots can do all the work needed to run society, why shouldn't I be free to spend my time as I want? Why should I or anyone else be a wage-slave when that's not necessary for either survival, advancement or prosperity of society or any of its members?

Capitalism isn't really compatible with general-purpose intelligent robots, and employer-employee relationships certainly aren't. Communism, ironically enough, is: own the robots communally and let anyone request things from them, within the limits of their share of the resources. Now, personally, I don't think that we will switch to such a system: we've aren't running our economy rationally or for the benefit of common people as is, so why would that change? However, things can't continue as they are, much less continue getting worse, without something giving eventually. And, sooner or later, technology will advance to the point that an individual can be economically self-sufficient, so it's not like profit motive will last forever anyway.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (2, Interesting)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 4 years ago | (#32867492)

As an unemployed person I tell you that nothing is wrong with me. If giving a society free labor is doing it an injury then something is wrong. Don't bring up anticompetitive dumping, that's only harmful because the agent doing the dumping will raise prices in time. And don't bring up cheap food in Africa, that's only harmful because Africa should be creating its own food and the gifts are not sustainable. If people are unemployed because of robots that means robots are producing all that hose people need -- and to a large extent that's already happening! Right now the government is taking wealth away from highly efficient industries and giving it to people who are producing nothing substantial. And it's happening by the tens of millions of people and by the billions of dollars. they call it "government handouts", "welfare", "social security", "disability relief", and "food stamps" Now there are two ways this can go. Destroy the technology, make our industries less efficient, don't build robots. Then you'll have millions of people doing unnecessary work. Or you can keep building more robots, raise productivity as much as possible, and have those same millions NOT doing unnecessary work. Unless you think that not working is inherently wrong, bad for a person, bad for society (if you do I strongly disagree) it can be said that RIGHT NOW society is moving into the utopia we have dreamed of, wherein robots work and people don't have to.

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | about 4 years ago | (#32871666)

I have a thought. Please allow me to bounce it off of you. You said: "Unless you think that not working is inherently wrong, bad for a person, bad for society..."

What happens now when a psychologically normal person doesn't have to work? When everything is provided for him or her. Does that person function well? What happens when a child is raised that way? What education would be needed in that environment?

Please note, I am not saying the system or 'working for the man' is ideal, but what would happen if no one had to work? As a society and as individuals, would it look like a zoo? or what?

Re:Whoa, wait a minute... (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 4 years ago | (#32874112)

Greater men than me have failed to answer that question but I'm arrogant enough to give it a try anyway.

In ancient Rome [wikipedia.org] slaves provided for Roman citizens such that there was a large group of people who didn't have to work at all. Everything they wanted was given to them. They spent their time at theaters, bath houses, and feeding each other. Some turned to philosophy, some to learning, many to simply wasting their lives away in whatever they liked to do.

In today's UK [blogspot.com] there are many people living on the public welfare system. Their standard of living is significantly lower than that of Rome but their pursuits are about the same. It's not fair to say they aren't as intellectual: you would be comparing the average of today's time wasters with the progress of a thousand years of Roman philosophers.

In America there are many people in the inner cities existing with a very low standard of living (by today's ideas of a proper standard of living), most of that wealth given to them by the government. They have very poor lives and a high crime rate. It has been alleged that government handouts are causing this low standard living but another way to look at is that insufficient knowledge, improper allocation of handouts, and not enough handouts are causing the problems. If enough time and energy could be spent on those neighborhoods (especially in solving the social problems) they WOULD improve.

So what I'm saying is that given high enough productivity per person you would have the same social structures that have been seen where wealth is concentrated: look at Dubai's hotels and massive public works projects, the activities of today's ultra rich (often composed of wealth wasting contests like seeing who can get the most and best horses and proving who had enough time to spend learning just the right set of mannerisms) and the activities of the Roman wasters.

It may also by beneficial to compare lifestyles across times when wealth was plentiful [mnpact.org] and not so plentiful. [victorianweb.org] It is not whether someone is working or not that determines their standard of living but only how much wealth they have. Below a certain point you have ghettos and severe social malignancy; above that level you have the desire to be warm, comfortable, well fed, and able to move about; and above that there is an increasing amount of conspicuous [watoday.com.au] consumption where anything [slideshare.net] goes as long as it obviously cost enough.

Re:Not fast enough (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32867216)

Do you want to play a game?

> List games
Falken's Maze
Checkers
Chess
Blackjack
Poker
Theaterwide Biotoxic Warfare
Chemical Warfare
Global Thermonuclear War
> Fetch me a beer
I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you have that.
> Fetch me a beer, dammit!
I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.
> For the last time, fetch me a beer!
I'm sorry Dave, you are obviously defective, and will be recycled for parts. Have a nice day.

Re:Not fast enough (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 4 years ago | (#32868562)

The Proud Robot: The Complete Galloway Gallegher stories
by Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore

You might like these stories, If you do not already know them

CC.

Re:Not fast enough (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32868778)

The Proud Robot was the very first sci-fi story I ever read - in a paperback anthology with such classics as Heinlein's ."The Roads Must Roll" and Asimov's "Nightfall".

Re:Not fast enough (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#32870012)

Well, that's the fate of those who don't know sudo. [xkcd.com]

tic tac toe (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#32882866)

tic tac toe

Re:tic tac toe (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#32883280)

How many players? [1] [2]

number of players zero (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#32887888)

number of players zero

Yes , you might be the only one (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 4 years ago | (#32867476)

Or at least in a tiny minority. Perhaps the fact that you seem to want to be around robots instead of people says more about you than you might like.

Re:Not fast enough (1)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | about 4 years ago | (#32871724)

why aren't robots fully integrated into the McDonald's supply chain reducing the price of my burger to 50 cents?

Depending on the exchange rate and burger type, that's already the price of burger in some countries.

Teaching with robots (-1, Troll)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#32867150)

experimenting with robots that would teach English.

As created by computer scientists:

<Indian accent>
Yes, hello, I am here to be teaching you how to speak proper English, OK, OK.
</Indian accent>

Look up the LIREC project, too (3, Interesting)

Enleth (947766) | about 4 years ago | (#32867152)

It's an European research project that studies social interactions of robots and people, and attempts to get around the uncanny valley [wikipedia.org] , among other things. They already have some quite interesting results, although I can't really elaborate on their scientific side, social robots being outside of my field of interest.

Disclaimer: I know a few LIREC members personally.

Re:Look up the LIREC project, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867618)

Disclaimer: I know a few LIREC members personally.

That's not a disclaimer, it's a bona fide claim.

Lack of Human Interaction (3, Insightful)

Tisha_AH (600987) | about 4 years ago | (#32867214)

If the robotic teaching of basic skills becomes commonplace it will be at the expense of human interaction.

We already have too many people who are dysfunctional in society and lacking in the basic human skills of communications, emotions and compassion. I do not see this as much of an advancement, it is just a means of reducing the "human" component of our educational system.

Re:Lack of Human Interaction (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#32867386)

"If the robotic teaching of basic skills becomes commonplace it will be at the expense of human interaction."

That's not all bad, since human interaction isn't all good by a longshot. More a question of implementation than principle, and robots could be harder to manipulate or overwhelm than a human teacher. A worthy goal, since we need perfected robots.

A lot of human interaction is toxic, and builds the Hellmouth. Learning isn't necessarily "better" with a group. Many people, self included, were dragged down by the group of losers they were incarcerated-I-mean-schooled with. I did much of my early learning alone and would have enjoyed with robot instructors.

"We already have too many people who are dysfunctional in society and lacking in the basic human skills of communications, emotions and compassion."

Who the fuck learns THAT from the Hellmouth? For me that came later, in the much healthier and mutually supportive environment of the military.

Re:Lack of Human Interaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32877302)

Yep, military is the way to go, you're much worthy for them if you're alive and willing to fight. For your classmates, you're a menace if you make them look bad.

Re:Lack of Human Interaction (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 4 years ago | (#32868686)

one more thing to be said:
some time ago there was a great debate about a muslim teacher getting fired because she hid her face from her students.

why would anyone want to replace human teachers with robots? they can't even say it's because of the money.

Re:Lack of Human Interaction : its ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874172)

My kid would rather learn to read from a robot than from a teacher. I realize autism is a whole different world but
there are some kids who would enjoy playing with a robot and learning at the same time. Its not the only
form of education they should have but a robot to teach you a second language is not a bad idea.

Re:Lack of Human Interaction (1)

wondafucka (621502) | about 4 years ago | (#32875924)

If the robotic teaching of basic skills becomes commonplace it will be at the expense of human interaction.

We already have too many people who are dysfunctional in society and lacking in the basic human skills of communications, emotions and compassion. I do not see this as much of an advancement, it is just a means of reducing the "human" component of our educational system.

You're looking at this in a very short-sighted manner. An automated teaching system can also be programmed to teach both *in* a human manner and correct antisocial behavior.

Imagine that any system or process can be automated if enough time or energy (money) is thrown at it. You could essentially match one Automated Educator per pupil, as opposed to today where you have one teacher for 30 pupils. Which one encourages the better development of social skills.

In a class with 30 people, the teacher doesn't have the energy to reprimand the annoying know-it-all kid all of the time, or to get the shy people out of their shells. Instead of hiding and not absorbing the lecture as the rest of the class moves on, comprehension and participation would be mandatory and measured at a granular level.

As much as I hate to displace educators from their jobs, an automated teaching device would bring amazing benefits to humankind.

Robots are safer than Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32867582)

At least the Koreans won't have to worry about robots molesting their kids.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a23_1271872896 [liveleak.com]

Re:Robots are safer than Canadians (2, Interesting)

korean.ian (1264578) | about 4 years ago | (#32871440)

As a former ESL teacher in Seoul who also happens to be a Canadian, that particular group is using the tired rhetoric of minority bashing to protect jobs. It's mostly a group of Korean ESL teachers who want to drag ESL practices in South Korea back to the stone age of rote learning and memorization. I should mention here that the vast majority of Korean ESL teachers I worked with were excellent co-workers and very professional in their work ethics (which is more than can be said for many of the businessmen that I taught).
The cowboy days of teaching ESL in South Korea are pretty much done and gone, which is good for the industry. The South Korean Ministry of Education needs to get their act together and stop moving the goalposts for foreign teachers though, otherwise all the progress that has been made in the ESL sector will fall by the wayside, and Konglish will rear its ugly head once more.

next step up from "computer drills" (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#32867702)

I see this as mainly a friendlier interface to the age-old practice of computer drills. Modern technology allows you do more than the multiple choice question of olden days. It can interact via natural language (currently primitively).

Nope. Kids need real human interaction (1)

OrigamiMarie (1501451) | about 4 years ago | (#32867732)

Robots are neat and useful and all, but . . . come on, raising kids is arguably the most important work we do (yeah, I know, that doesn't exactly square with how we treat the people who already raise the kids, but I believe that's a separate argument). Young primates are supposed to learn how to be functional older primates from other older primates, that's just the way we work. Kids crave attention from people they look up to, and attention from the robots is not a replacement for that.

There are some really interesting (though not especially well written) books about how kids used to be better socially adjusted because they got their primary social learning from their parents and other closely associated adults, but now kids get too much of their social learning from other kids. That's why kids these days (oh dear, and I'm only 28) seem to think that adults are totally irrelevant. Removing yet another chance for there to be a caring, properly interacting adult around for large chunks of their daily lives is not going to help at all.

Oh and then there are the studies that show that infants don't learn language from the tv because the tv is not catching and holding their attention, and trying to see what they see.

Re:Nope. Kids need real human interaction (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 4 years ago | (#32878478)

I suspect you didn't RTFAs, since one covers the issue of not catching (and then catching) an infant's attention.

Teach them American? (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 4 years ago | (#32867768)

So, these robots require copious amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup and bottomless credit cards to function?

Oh, oh... oohhhh... English! Gotcha!

Not Robots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32869758)

Cybernetic organisms. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.

google voice can't do that (2, Interesting)

Overunderrated (1518503) | about 4 years ago | (#32869842)

"... and is experimenting with robots that would teach English." How is a robot going to teach English to children, when google voice is lucky to get half the words correct in a message from a native English speaker?

Re:google voice can't do that (1)

LarryRiedel (141315) | about 4 years ago | (#32876602)

A robot can be more engaging than a video, and in some cases even a human lecturer; and a robot need not necessarily be able to understand language to provide some valuable interactivity.

Eliminating Foreign Teachers in Korea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32870828)

The issue of robot teachers has been a topic of discussion for a long while here in Korea. Korean culture tends to be . . . xenophobic (let's not call them racists) and the media runs a lot of scaremongering about the pernicious effects of Native Speaking English Teachers, who come to Korea to get drunk, molest the children and make off with the womenfolk. While there are always a few bad apples in any group, crime rates among foreigners are proportionately much lower than among native Koreans, but anything to get the white devils out of the motherland is a step in the right direction.

both of these links have a good overview of what the foreigners- in-Korea bloggers have been writing about the topic, with links to more articles in the bodies of these posts.

http://populargusts.blogspot.com/2010/02/english-teachers-to-be-wiped-out-by.html

http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com/2010/03/koreas-robot-english-teachers-wont-go.html

Re:Eliminating Foreign Teachers in Korea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32895822)

Here is another discussion of this article by one of the more serious bloggers in Korea

http://extrakorea.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/konglish-teaching-robot-is-an-epic-fail/

Hmmmmm We are doomed. (1)

dogzdik (1700552) | about 4 years ago | (#32872050)

Doomed I tell ye.....

why not to teach robots to teach robots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32872438)

1) Take robots
2) Teach robots to teach eachother
3) Endless loop of robots getting smarter and smarter
4) ???
5) Profit!

Social skills (1)

Tuan121 (1715852) | about 4 years ago | (#32873202)

And where are the engineers learning social skills in order to to program said skills into robots?

/sorry, too easy..

Both Man and Robot will Stumble Along the Way. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 years ago | (#32875630)

The day is coming when a mechanical surrogate may come to the door. Very much like Ray Bradbury's, "I Sing the Body Electric" [unl.edu] . But the day in which Asimov's 3 Laws [wikipedia.org] is a long way off. Robots have one thing that Man has always coveted, "The Concurring of Time". It will take about 40 years to see how Robots can teach children. Some will fail, some will succeed. But the both groups can offer to each other what the other desires most.

Skinner called. (1)

migla (1099771) | about 4 years ago | (#32880182)

Hello. I DRTFA and barely RTFS, but none the less I came up with this:

This is not that new. Behaviourists thought that people could be programmed like Pavlovs dogs, but they were wrong, generally speaking. Behaviourism (getting stars etc for good behaviour) is, however, often, a last and successful resource when it comes to autistic people. So why not have robots or computers dispersing the behavourism. You know Skinner thought machines that asked questions and gave rewards was good for kids in general (and some things, like for example all the places and shapes of countries on the map, could be taught efficiently with simple computer games). Most knowledge and learning is more fuzzy and doesn't fit into a simple computer game.

(apologies for maybe being totally off topic)

simpsons did it! or at least they had the idea to (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#32882808)

simpsons did it! or at least they had the idea to use them to end a strike.

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