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FAIR AND SQUARE: Robots are teaching children who use QR codes instead of names! Should we be afraid?

Anděla Vostrá
24.Oct 2019
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3 minutes to read
Special section
 Hi, I'm Ruby.

Every proper Czech knows that the term "robot" wass invented by Josef Čapek, and that his brother Karel presented it in his science fiction play R.U.R. In modern times, there are robots everywhere you look. They are successfully replacing the human workforce in all fields. Even though the so-called cybernetic revolt is, according to experts, not quite about to happen yet, I feel that we should be prepared!

The kids learn to work with Ruby.
 Can he squeeze his hand?
 The new robotic teacher is successful.

Back when domestic appliance manufacturers came out with the first robot that would vacuum mess off the floor for me, I was overjoyed. All robotic amenities within my budget flooded my home during a mere few months, because I am naturally really damn lazy. I like these gadgets, it leaves me with more time for myself...

But...

Robots are replacing the human workforce these days. Artificial intelligence is already so clever that it knows how to cry on its own. And that is starting to freak me out a little. When I read an article that stated that for the very first time, a robot has started to teach elementary school children in the Czech Republic, I realized it. Robots will destroy us all! Back when they were only mindlessly assembling parts on command in a factory somewhere on the outskirts of the city, I didn't care.

Pronájem vily 10+3, 490m2, Praha
Pronájem vily 10+3, 490m2, Praha, Praha 5

But these little creatures are blending in with people now, children specifically. The dummy at the airport that knows two jokes and can show you the way to the gate didn't bother me, but this tiny teacher terrifies me. And it's a woman on top! They're even getting assigned genders now!

Open in gallery (4)
 Robots are already gender self-sufficient.
Robots are already gender self-sufficient.Source: Pixabay

Hi, I'm Ruby

The robot lady is named Ruby and teaches children at the Neštěmická elementary school in Ústí nad Labem. It seems that she only assists real teachers for now. She assists in teaching Math and English. Don't these sentences sound crazy to you? So she like, gets a salary, pays taxes, has a lunch and cig break? Probably not, right? What if they "employ" more such teachers. That being sci-fi nonsense aside, who the hell's going to be left to pay taxes? I'm already worried about never seeing retirement...

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 The Ruby robot helps teachers to teach.
The Ruby robot helps teachers to teach.Source: ZŠ Neštěmická

A QR code instead of a name

On top of all that - our kids are becoming nameless. Apparently children absolutely love and respect this 30 kg heavy and 120 cm tall "teacher". While the real teacher is doing something like asking a student questions in front of the blackboard, Ruby's job entails approaching one of the other students and asking them to use the tablet placed on her chest to practice vocabulary or solve a math problem. These robot exams aren't actually anonymous either, because every child in the class has been assigned their own QR code for the purpose of communicating with the robot. So the children don't have names, but codes! I'm dying.

The artificial intelligence contains detectors, sensors and even cameras. Thanks to those it can even detect the mood the children are in. It can blink, move its head and body, it moves all around the class thanks to its wheels. What might it do when a child throws a paper plane at it? Nothing, of course...

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The pupils are excited about the robot.
The pupils are excited about the robot.Source: ZŠ Neštěmická

According to the school principal the robot is capable of monitoring the work of thirty students at the same time. It can detect which students are more talented in the given field, and will help them develop their knowledge. On the other hand, it can help children with learning disabilities to catch up on stuff they didn't understand. So bye bye teachers, people. You are no longer needed. And once you're yelling about not getting enough money again, which I personally agree with, not only will nobody hear you, they'll replace you with robots.

Delighted adults

"Our school is small. We want to allow every child to enjoy education, to be hungry for information. To help with that we have the humanoid robot or virtual reality that we utilize in the classroom,"

says the principal of Neštěmická elementary school, Marie Čápová, happily taking selfies with the new teach much like most adults that are responsible for us being progressive.

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 Adults are also fascinated by the robot.
Adults are also fascinated by the robot.Source: ZŠ Neštěmická

The project of teaching in tandem with a robot has been brought about mainly by the Innovation Center of the Ústí Region. It financed the 20,000 CZK purchase of the robot. The project will run for three years. After that it will be decided whether the use of robots in teaching is beneficial. BENEFICIAL! Do you hear that? Like, who is going to be evaluating that, and how?

I haven't been able to find out anywhere what psychologists think about this. Sure, I have only studied this divine discipline for two semesters, but I don't actually have to be Freud to put two and two together. I think it's wrong. If, God willing, I have a child one day, I don't want them to bring flowers to school for a robot. I just don't. Children need role models, human role models.

I wonder, what do you think about this?

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