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Robotics Education Science

Sony's Robot Attends Pre-School 228

Darren writes "Sony's Qrio humanoid robot has been attending a Californian pre school to play with children under the age of 2 since March to test if robots can live harmoniously with humans. I wonder if the testing includes monitoring the 'nightmare status' of the pre-schoolers?"
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Sony's Robot Attends Pre-School

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  • "Nightmare Status" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LewsTherinKinslayer ( 817418 ) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @08:36AM (#12405883) Homepage
    IANACP*, but it seems to me that nightmares or general fear or anxiety over an object or person is due to infamiliarity. If you are exposed to something regularly for a long period of time, you simply become accustomed to its pressence. This can be said of both children and adults, but even more so of children.

    * I am not a child pyschologist.
  • Motivation? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @08:38AM (#12405897)
    I always wondered what motivation robots have for "learning". Humans are driven by various needs (e.g. shelter/sex/food/beer) - what needs do the robots have? Why should they try to improve upon themselves? I'm doubtful that programming alone will ever make robots anything more than overglorified "hello world" programs.
  • by vivIsel ( 450550 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @08:39AM (#12405901)
    I'd bet these children grow up with a radically liberal--not in the political sense--definition of legitimate consciousness and thought. What's more difficult to say, though, is whether that means they'll be pro-life nuts or scientific crusaders.
  • by nkh ( 750837 ) <.exochicken. .at.> on Monday May 02, 2005 @08:57AM (#12406013) Journal
    I've shown the video of Asimo to my mother. In this video, Asimo runs, walks and even pulls a woman by her arm. My mother was freaked out and almost had nightmares because of it. (she's a child psychologist ;) and told me that the scary part of this robot is its humanoid appearance. It's all right as long as it's a computer with a mouse and a keyboard, but when this computer has two arms, two legs and a head, the fear comes (and I don't know why)
  • by nkh ( 750837 ) <.exochicken. .at.> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:11AM (#12406094) Journal
    She probably has 20-30 years of exposure to computers, all in this form.
    She doesn't really know what a computer looks like, she even thought my Mac Mini was a big pack of cigarettes. I wonder if this adaptation (familiarity) happens to all humans or is limited to young people familiar with video games (and big robots launching rockets out of their arms). Most adults I've spoken to have the same reaction of rejecting this unknown universe.
  • Are you sentient? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by benhocking ( 724439 ) <> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:20AM (#12406181) Homepage Journal
    Robots are not sentient. We do not even know what sentience is. The only way for us humans to create sentience is to procreate.

    You correctly state that we do not know what sentience is, but then you claim that the only way to create sentience is to procreate. How do we know if we're sentient, if we do not know what sentience is?

    Or is this like [insert term here]? I don't know what [term] is, but I'll know it when I see it.

  • by S714726 ( 875012 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:43AM (#12406479)
    "...they now dance with it and help it get up when it falls." Don't children do that with toys, like dolls? They may not completely know the difference between this robot and a toy, but I think it's optimistic of Sony to say that the children think of it as a "younger brother."
  • by displague ( 4438 ) <slashdot.displague@com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @09:53AM (#12406603) Homepage Journal
    How do monkeys and apes figure into that? I don't think most folks 'fear' them - and currently, they are about as close as you can get (robots included).
  • I know of at least one child who was terrified of a dancing gorilla the first time he saw it. Later on, he was still somewhat afraid of it but eventually he came to enjoy the toy. (Supporting that familiarity idea.) Nevertheless, I imagine more people are afraid of monkeys and apes than there are people who are afraid of clowns and wax figures.

    That aside, I still think that there's something some might find especially discomforting about robots that look like us. Whether or not this will change over time, or whether it is hard-wired into our genes is something that only time will tell, IMO. (Of course, it is remotely possible that selection will somehow act against such genes, but that's highly unlikely.)

  • Re:Ptft.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:40AM (#12407155)
    that's for sure. If you read product warranties (yeah, they're usually boring as heck) but I found one for a product that, among the usual disclaimers for not covering damage due to extreme conditions, acts of war, natural disasters, acts of god, etc also included damage caused by a child under 5 years of age.

  • by SilenceEchoed ( 840918 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @10:43AM (#12407211)
    Another possibility, stemming from a rather long, and unfortunately heated, debate I had on this during a philosophy and ethics discussion: As a society, we constantly strive to define what it is to be alive and human. Early definitions were broad, but sufficient. With each new leap in technology, we can create things that mimic this definition, or we discover something existing that already does. When that happens, we redefine ourselves. Currently, our definitions are devoid of "flesh and bones" things, since our science long ago proved that these things are far from what makes you who you are. Instead, we keep to less tangible things, like thought, reason, and emotion. Now, even those places are being invaded by increasingly cunning programmers and robotics experts. When the machines look like us, think like us, and feel like us, what is it that really seperates them from us? Morally and Ethically, can we turn them off? That's a line in the sand that few are willing to blur. Currently, robots have become our modern slave labor. The perfect worker, that never complains or asks for vacation, and will gladly work itself clear to 'death' if you ask it to. The idea of these machines become 'intelligent' enough to consider what it is that they are being asked to do, and possibly refuse, is unsettling to most.
  • by meehawl ( 73285 ) <meehawl.spam@gm a i l .com> on Monday May 02, 2005 @03:21PM (#12410965) Homepage Journal
    test if robots can live harmoniously with humans

    Humans don't really seem to be able to live harmoniously with other humans, despite massive, long-term evolutionary refinement. What makes them think a hunk of nuts and bolts will do any better?
  • by jargonCCNA ( 531779 ) on Monday May 02, 2005 @08:38PM (#12414952) Homepage Journal
    ...I thought Soong said that himself in "Brothers"...

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson