Robots to Teach Children with Developmental Problems

Remember the Jetsons? The futuristic-cartoon sitcom, complete with a robot maid and flying car, was supposed to take place in the year 2062. It’s only 2010, and while we haven’t totally caught up with the whole flying-car thing, The University of Southern California is testing a robot that can teach.
These teaching robots stand three feet tall and can maintain eye contact with its student. This recent technology has been proven to be most successful in children with developmental problems. Currently, it can only teach simple skills like vocabulary and household tasks.
Right now, these robots have mostly been used in experimental settings, and they’re directed by artificial intelligence software including speech recognition and motion tracking.
These “teacher’s aids” seem to be best used in settings that require the most repetition like foreign language or for teaching autistic children.
The U.S. isn’t the first to try these robots; several countries across the globe are testing them out in a classroom setting. South Korea, for instance, is using the technology as playmates and to teach the children English.
Though the robots have not yet reached a classroom standard, they are under plenty of scrutiny. The main concern: Robots will replace human teachers.
“I worry that if kids grow up being taught by robots and viewing technology as the instructor,” said Mitchel Resnick, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “they will see it as the master.”
Contrarily, most researchers and scientists reply that they have no intention nor the ability to replace the human head of the classroom. Patricia Kuhl, from the University of Washington, believes that robots can fill the gap where some human teachers may struggle.
“[What we believe] is that with the right kind of technology at a critical period in a child’s development, they could supplement learning in the classroom.”
Via The New York Times