David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Children want to be treated as Humans - by Robot Teachers

This week I came across an interesting study by Latitude Research via the MindShift Blog. In collaboration with LEGO® Learning Institute and Project Synthesis, Latitude asked children from across the world to write stories, imagining that a robot companion would be part of their everyday life, at school and beyond. 

The study Robots @ School found that children apparently have no problems to imagine a life with such a digitized friend, quite the opposite. Finishing story lines like 

“When I got to school this morning, my teacher surprised me by giving me a robot to help me with my schoolwork and…”

“My learning group or classroom finished its work before class ended, so my teacher let us leave early with the class robot and…”

“I made friends with a robot today, so I invited it to come home with me after school and…” 

they came up with pretty telling stories of how they imagine their ideal learning environment with 64% of them as natural, human-like companions. The robot teacher would have all the time and patience to explain a problem and concept over and over again until the kid got it. But there won’t be any harsh judgement or shame involved like in a “normal” classroom setting. The robot teacher / tutor would be supportive and understanding. 

“Robots can get that out of the way, because they’re not judgmental. There’s a sense that technology is almost coequal, as opposed to a sort of master-servant relationship.” explains Ian Schultze, Latitude’s Director of Technology and Business Development. 

The essence of the survey is pretty clear. Children want to learn in an environment that adapts to their personal needs and skills. They want someone (or something) at their side that supports them in the learning process but does not judge or shame them when they have a problem. 

Another key finding of the Robots @ School study is that for children the line between learning and playing is blurred, and they think that both are mutually reinforcing. 

All this reminded me of the concept behind Time To Know. Time To Know does not replace the teacher with a robot, but it gives every child a computer in the classroom. Children then learn at their own pace based on a curriculum that includes a lot of game elements and adapts automatically to the skill level of each individual student. 

The teacher then has the time and data to assist each student in a personalized way, supporting slower students or challenging the faster ones with individualized exercises. 

Time To Know’s founder Shmuel Meitar is a truly inspiring person. He invested $60 million of his own wealth into the launch of Time To Know in 2004, starting it as a philanthropic project to bring the classroom into the 21st century. I had the chance to interview him a couple of weeks ago, and I think that Time To Know’s concept is very close to what the children in the Robots @ School study envisioned for themselves.

Download Audio .mp3

Download Video .mp4

Picture by Latitude Research

Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

Keep reading Show less

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Lee Jae-Sung of Korea Republic lies on the pitch holding his knee during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Scroll down to load more…