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Microsoft Robotics

Microsoft Robots to Watch Kids 544

Archangel Michael writes "Microsoft announced today that is testing a new toy / robot to watch over kids. My question is, if the toy BSOD does it take the kid with it? Now we are letting inanimate objects raise our kids! When will it end?"
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Microsoft Robots to Watch Kids

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  • Just wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mz6 ( 741941 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:02AM (#11832737) Journal
    ...until it gets viruses and spyware.
  • perspective please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:02AM (#11832741) Journal
    Now we are letting inanimate objects raise our kids!

    You mean "as opposed to the warm and healthy TV-education kids have been raised by in the past 15 years" ? At least this robot might create the opportunity to go play outside.

    Stop seeing everything so negative
  • agh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c0dedude ( 587568 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:02AM (#11832745)
    I was wondering how long until a terrible BSOD joke, then I realized IT'S IN THE FUCKING POST! It's not funny anymore, folks! Let the dead horse rest in peace.
  • BSOD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:04AM (#11832765)
    Why are there always the inevitable jokes about BSODs? They're from like, Windows 95 or 98 which is now at least 7 years old. I've NEVER seen 2000 or XP produce a blue screen of death EVER - and use it all day every day in many different capacities as a software developer.

    I know it's physically capable of a BSOD, but really, has anyone ever seen XP or 2000 SP3 actually BSOD on a regular basis. My experience is that XP itself is incredibly stable. Infinitely more so than 95 or 98.
  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:05AM (#11832770)
    My question is, if the toy BSOD does it take the kid with it?

    Yeah, because they've augmented BSODs with C4 explosives now. Glad you caught that. Now we are letting inanimate objects raise our kids!

    Yeah, this is new. Nevermind radios, TVs, arcades, game consoles, computers, the internet, Slashdot, etc....

  • by booyah ( 28487 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:06AM (#11832775)
    as a father of an amazingly cute 6 month old little girl, I have to say.

    "If you dont want to watch your kids, you shouldnt have had them". there its said, its out, and thats it.

    Personally the highlight of my day is coming home and spending the 5 or so hours with my wife and daughter. I spend the entire time playing with the little girl, its amazing what they do when you watch them, you can see their little outlooks forming, I really do think I have a good idea what she will be like in 3-4 years, as well as in 10-20 years. I really cant wait, but am enjoying every minute I have.

    Some may say that robots could make life easier when you want to do little things like cook dinner, or take a shower, stick the kid in a bouncy seat, or exersaucer and bring em with you. My daughter loves to watch me cook (from a safe splatter free distance).

    my $.02
  • by Richie1984 ( 841487 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:08AM (#11832788)
    At least this robot might create the opportunity to go play outside.

    I feel the more important point is that no amount of television or 'nanny robots' can protect a child, and also help along its development, as well as genuine parental interaction, or general human interaction.
  • When will it end? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by marktoml ( 48712 ) * <> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:08AM (#11832791) Homepage Journal
    Not until society* changes. Too often children are as much a status symbol as anything. I have seen parents, both professionals (Doctor, Lawyer, etc.) with full-time careers who:
    -have children
    -raised by nanny
    -in school at 3 years (pre-school)

    How much time are they committing to this? Why not a robot, probably cheaper.

    *By society here I am (sadly) referring to American society.

  • by glnorris ( 301339 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:09AM (#11832805)
    I wonder; if the inanimate object had been driven by Linux it would make the independants happier?

    In a sense, we've been letting inanimate objects help raise our children for a LONG time, from stuffed dolls to cradles.

    Microsoft builds something that probably serves as a monitor, and suddenly this tool is evil.

    If Microsoft develops a screwdriver, will people refuse to use it?

  • by Noizemonger ( 665926 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:14AM (#11832845)
    As the Father of a 7year old girl i have to tell you: No. You have no idea what she will be like in 3-4 years nor in 10-20 years. Kids tend to grow up and get their own minds. Dont expect your kid to become what you imagine her to be. She will suprise you - and that is a very good thing.
  • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:19AM (#11832898) Journal
    When you compare Slashdot to many geeks social lives it's alot less inanimate then you might think. We interact with hundredsd if not thousands of other people every week. On TV you just watch others interact.

    It's like the community in "the real world", it's not really alive as a whole, but it's still there and evolving and developing.. and you get less dupes in the real world.
  • Re:BSOD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bairy ( 755347 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:21AM (#11832911) Homepage
    You sir, are an idiot

    You can hardly personally insult on someone based on their opinion of something.
    In reality, a lot of 2000 and XP systems are pretty stable, and certainly don't BSOD enough for it to be called "regular" which is the point he was making.
    Is everyone who holds such a valid opinion "an idiot"?

  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CHESTER COPPERPOT ( 864371 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:29AM (#11832986)
    The parent poster makes a damn good point.

    Technology is not a substitute for people and American culture is becoming so enamoured with technology to the point of forgetting what matters- family, values, and human contact.

    Of course who's to say in the far future that we'll have robots that imitate humans so well that some robots are more emphatic and caring than some people that walk the earth.
  • by alsta ( 9424 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:30AM (#11833000)
    Or how about not buying one for little Poot if you don't trust it or want it?
  • Yet another excuse (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:45AM (#11833093)
    Unfortunately, this seems like yet another excuse some parent will use to not watch their kids and when something does go wrong, they'll be the first in line at the court suing away their poor parenting.
  • by LighthouseJ ( 453757 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:51AM (#11833134)
    The article just says Microsoft is showing a prototype, not that your own house will be filled with Microsoft robots this evening, so calm down.

    Prototype != Product on Shelves

    Look at car companies, they've been making prototypes for a long time, usually to see how the market responds to a design to test the waters so the vehicle doesn't dive when it's released. Plus, back in the '80's, remember when robots were supposed to be the "new thing", they had robots on display doing household chores, living up to the Jetsons ideal house. As far as I can see the only persistent robot presence is the prohibitively expensive Roomba vacuum cleaner which itself can't be too complex of a robot.

    I guess people just want to regurgitate more BSOD jokes at Microsoft's undefensible expensive. Good job on the originality, guys...
  • by Loco3KGT ( 141999 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:57AM (#11833175)
    Personally I think you're right. I think this is just more proof that a lot of people are starting to see kids as an "inconvenience" in a lot of ways. They didn't think everything out and realize that they wouldn't be able to do all of the activities they used to be able to do. So they sit their kids in front of the tv, or a bear with a webcam, and leave them alone.

    It's depressing. Even when I was watching cartoons as a kid my parents and grandparents still watched them with me.
  • by bitswapper ( 805265 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:00AM (#11833204)

    allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection.

    Who else gets to monitor your child, or tell them what to do? "Teddy says go and open the door..".
    Given the track record for home wireless security, and MS's own track record for security, it just seems like the wrong kind of opportunity for the wrong kind of people. Combining microsoft and wireless child monitoring gives a whole new and disturbing dimension to war driving...

    Microsoft is talking with the state Department of Transportation about sharing its interface with the government,

    Now that's reassuring. The US govn't would never abuse such a thing. George Orwell eat your heart out....

  • by Didian ( 62340 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:03AM (#11833221)
    I say this robot is a reasonable next step past my audio-only monitor that I use when my adorable child is sleeping. Some (very rare) times when he awakes, he plays quietly in his crib. It would be nice to have a video monitoring his actions, so we can both enjoy some alone time.

    Kids need to be left alone as well as spending time with their parents. Constant adult supervision and attention can be as harmful as not enough. You don't really want your amazingly cute little girl unable to deal with you being out of the room for 10 minutes. Her life shouldn't revolve around you - that's unhealthy.
  • by VikingDBA ( 446387 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:15AM (#11833317)
    Unfortunatly, given the way some people raise their kids, a nannybot may be a big improvement.
  • by SenFo ( 761716 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:16AM (#11833323) Homepage
    "You mean "as opposed to the warm and healthy TV-education kids have been raised by in the past 15 years" ? At least this robot might create the opportunity to go play outside.

    Stop seeing everything so negative"

    TV shows did not raise me. My mother did. TV shows were simply a form of entertainment and in no way a replacement for time spent with a human.

    Call it being "negative" if you want, but I think your naive. Besides, a Microsoft robot? Come on!
  • by KtHM ( 732769 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:38AM (#11833559) Homepage
    It's better to actually be a parent.

    Come on, don't have kids unless you're gonna take care of them.
  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:39AM (#11833574) Homepage
    Now we are letting inanimate objects raise our kids!

    Forget Awesomo. What about the glowing box in the living room? "Raising Children Since the 50's" (tm)
  • by tarogue ( 84626 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:00AM (#11833822)
    Actually, that was ABC, and as I recall, was only used during Saturday morning cartoons.

    Yes, I am pathetic.
  • by h4ter ( 717700 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:37AM (#11834268) Homepage
    Now we are letting inanimate objects raise our kids!

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let's slow down here. This isn't some nannybot (a), and (2) the thing's just like a cuddly baby monitor with more features. Are parents who have normal walkie-talkie-esque baby monitors somehow letting radio waves raise their children?

    Come on, Archangel.
  • by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:47AM (#11834389)
    My 10 month old crawls around. A lot. She gets into spaces you couldn't imagine. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have an extra set of eyes on her, especially when I have to take care of my 4 year old at the same time.

    This robot would be a bad thing if it's a replacement for parental supervision. It could still be useful as a supplement though.
  • by mtz206 ( 664433 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:54AM (#11834470)
    The issues and concerns raised here relate directly to an informal seminar I attended yesterday with Prof. Sherry Turkle [] of MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society []. Prof. Turkle spoke about her research for her forthcoming book on "evocative objects" - technologies we use to think with, to think about ourselves and our relationships. Her work has focused on "relational artifacts," robots designed to forge relationships with people - especially useful for both children and the elderly. Examples include the therapy robot Paro [] (a baby seal) and Hasbro/iRobot's My Real Baby [].

    During our discussion, important value and ethical issues arose in the design and use of such "relational robots." These robots are meant to create bonds and simulate "authentic" relationships. They react to voices, track their owner's eyes, respond and project emotions, and so on. Yet, they remain robots - all these actions and reactions are programmed - pre-determined. So, how do the designers decide what emotions to program and which to omit? In an effort to be realistic, My Real Baby gets happy as well as sad. If you bounce her when she's happy, she gets more happy; if you bounce her when she's fussy, her fussiness only increases. How should she react, then, if she is abused? It is not hard to imagine a child (especially one who is herself a victim of abuse) to violently shake, strike or otherwise "abuse" the doll. How should this evocative object respond? Should she show pain? Begin to cry? Eventually "pass out" or even "die" if the abuse continues? How "real" should the robot be in order to create an "authentic" relationship?

    [In the end, the designers wanted the doll/robot to react as a child would, with pain and sadness. However, the company's lawyers stepped in and were concerned that any type of response by the doll might encourage further abuse (stimulus-response theory), and they didn't want to be accused of actually encouraging abusive behavior. In the end, the doll simply did not react to abuse.]

    Other ethical dilemmas related to the design of such robots included whether they should be capable of deception or betrayal, two common features of human relationships. Or, should they "die." On one hand, the experience of death as part of the life cycle is an important part of psychological development and would add to the "authenticity" of the relationship. On the other hand, one of the benefits of these robots seems to be the avoidance of the emtional damage that can happen when a "real" companion (whether a human friend, or even a companion dog) dies.

  • The economy has gotten to a point where to be middle class, you need a two incomes. So many people end up in a situation where they have no time.

    Quit frankly, this country need a big push to go back to a single income families.
  • by jangobongo ( 812593 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:30PM (#11836877)
    At least this robot might create the opportunity to go play outside.

    Looking these threads makes me wonder if anyone actually reads the article (and no, I'm not new here, I know that few do).

    This is about a teddy bear that sits in the corner. The only thing that moves on it is its head. Not much of a robot! It doesn't appear to do anything more than act as an interface so that a parent could observe and possibly communicate with the child through VOIP.

    This would never replace a human. It's more of a comfort accessory for both the child and the parent when they are seperated, whether in seperate rooms or if the child is in childcare while the parent is at work. Clearly not a substitute for adult supervision.

    It all boils down to being just another fancy baby monitior [].
  • by Loco3KGT ( 141999 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:42PM (#11837013)
    Yea right, good luck with that. Women's Rights groups will castrate you for suggesting it.

    Men just wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker