Friday, June 21, 2013

Kids, Could a Robot Be Your Friend?

"Robots Could Be Future Playmates for Kids

As technology continues to improve, humanlike robots will likely play an ever-increasing role in our lives: They may become tutors for children, caretakers for the elderly, office receptionists or even housemaids. Children will come of age with these androids, which naturally raises the question: What kind of relationships will kids build with personified robots?

Children will view humanoid robots as intelligent social and moral beings, allowing them to develop substantial and meaningful relationships with the machines, new research suggests.

Researchers analyzed the interactions between nearly 100 children and Robovie, a 3-foot-tall (0.9 meters) robot developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Japan. In the study, two technicians controlled Robovie remotely from another room, leading the children to believe that the robot was autonomous. The researchers imparted humanlike behavior to the robot, such as having Robovie claim unfair treatment when he was told to go into the closet at the end of the interaction sessions.

Follow-up interviews with the children showed that the kids believed Robovie had mental states, such as being intelligent and having feelings, and was a social entity capable of being a friend and confidante. Many of the children also believed that Robovie deserved fair treatment and should not be psychologically harmed. [10 Things That Make Humans Special]

"We typically think [of] robots as rational calculators rather than humanlike and emotional," said Adam Waytz, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, who was not involved in the study. "But this research provides a nice example of how endowing a robot with emotions can lead children to treat the robot as a companion and to consider its moral standing."

Read the full article at its source:

Student Focus Question(s):  Do you think that you could consider a robot a friend? Even if a robot wouldn't be your first choice, could one be your  friend in extreme circumstances? (what if you were marooned on a deserted space station? What if you were sick and in a hospital isolation ward?) How might a robot be a better friend than a human? How do you feel robots would make far worse friends than real people?

After thinking about this, you can enter your response using the "Comments" function, below (to the left of the envelope icon). Feel free to identify your school and/or class....

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Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

Check out ROBOTICS for TEACHERS Podcast

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