Lake Stevens JournalLake Stevens Journal

Japan introduces first robot teacher

Bookmark and Share
Published on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 by BY KELCEY HATCH | REPORTER

Read More Editorial

 In mid May Japan introduced the first robot teacher. The robot known as Saya, was originally developed for companies who wanted to cut costs, replacing  people like secretaries and receptionists.
After 15 years of research Saya is being tested as a teacher in a Japanese primary  school.  She is multilingual, can organize tasks for students, take roll call and even get upset when the students misbehave. 18 motors under the robots latex face help her express six emotions; suprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness and sadness.
Saya is just one example of Japan's determination to put a robot in every home by 2015.
The cost of these robots are about $51,000 and like any mechanical object they take maintenance.
When I read this story I got a disheartening flash back to the movie Wall- E. What I pictured was a sea of morbidly obese humans being led by robots.
It is frightening to think that our world might be on the track to being dependant on robots.  
If our teaching jobs are being targeted, what is next ?
Doctors, dentists, bus drivers, police persons?
The impact on our economy could be devastating. If the teaching jobs alone in Lake Stevens were replaced by robots that would cause our community to loose even more jobs than the recent lay-offs.
That is the impact on a small community, imagine the global affects.
There is no doubt that the Japanese intelligence to create a robot that can lead a classroom is fascinating and although I would like to see Saya in action I don’t believe that it is a smart move.
Thinking back to my days in elementary school the thing that I remember more than anything else are the teachers. Even though it was more than ten years ago I remember their personalities, their teaching techniques and the small things they did to make the lessons fun.
As cost effective and organized as robots are they do not have the ability to connect emotionally with their students and that is an important part of development for children.
Another task that could arise for Saya would be to take care of the elderly.  A job that just doesn’t fit into our busy life styles. What would become of our grandparents if they would taken care of by a drone of robots?
For many, time in a retirement home or an assistand living community can be a mentally and physically stressful time.  Removing the contact of caring staff members could be devestating to the health of residents.
I hope scientists never stop learning or inventing, although I do hope that they know when an idea is a bad one; like robots teaching in classrooms. Plus they are creepy.

[Post to Twitter]