Mar 9, 2011

Could your child have a Geminoid for a teacher someday? Imagine the possibilities, good or bad!

In the US, teachers are being laid off or eliminated from their jobs in many communities. The improvements seen in Wall Street haven't been felt on Main Street. Many parents face the fact that their children, teens, and college-age kids will be entering classrooms and lecture halls filled many more students than in the past, come August or early September. 


What are the solutions?         The popular buzz says that interactive whiteboards, netbooks, SmartPhones, and tablets such as the iPad2 will tranform K-16 education. States and local school districts have created a range of virtual schools, and these are increasing in number.  My own state offers a "virtual advantage" in the form of the North Carolina Virtual Public School.  There are opportunities for students with special needs to receive instruction on-line, too.

"Mr. Geminoid"



What might be see in the future-  Robots for teachers?  While the topic might seem a bit amusing, it might not be a joke in the future.

Five years from now, will my grandson go to kindergarten toting a next-gen iPad, (augmented reality-enabled, 3D holographic, telepresent, virtual-school connected) greeted at the classroom door by the next-Gen Mr. Geminoid, his life-like, fully programmable teacher?  


At this point, the Geminoid is controlled by a real person.  In the school setting, one teacher could control his or her "Geminoid" in multiple classrooms, I suppose....


"A Geminoid or twin-robot is designed to resemble a living person. It is controlled by an operator who through the use of advanced software can transfer facial movements and speech to the robot next door (or where ever...). For many years, robot technology has primarily been associated with factories and warehouses, but the days of thinking about robots as just 'tools' are over, Henrik Scharfe says. The robots have become a media, perhaps one of the more significant media of the future. In that way, robot technology follows the trajectory of computers: from tools to media." -Geminoid DK


I can see that many people might fancy the idea of robots taking over the role of teachers.  


Unlike the Geminoid, these robots wouldn't need to be controlled by living, breathing teacher.  Anti-teacher union folks would like the fact that there would be fewer wages to pay,  no rising health insurance premiums to worry about,  no concerns about retirement.  No money would need to be set aside for death benefits.


I imagine there would be other costs, and this might be more than what we now pay for live teachers.  We'd need to pay for  programmers who can handle all aspects of instructional technology.  We'd need to pay for robotic maintenance technicians.  We'd have to pay for the network that runs the system of robot teachers.    


We'd have to figure out how the robots could realistically handle parent-teacher conferences, classroom conflicts, bus duty, coaching, choir practice,  club sponsorship, volunteer coordination,  science fairs, and so forth.  


There is always the chance that robots outfitted with future generation AI capabilities might become sentient, at which point, they might decide to unionize, if they don't happen to "live" in states that don't allow  teacher unions, such as N.C.   ; ) 


Just a thought.   

RELATED AND SOMEWHAT RELATED
Geminoid DK Website (lots of info!)
Geminoid DK: An ultra-realistic android announced (w/Video)
Katie Gatto, Physorg, 3/7/11
Latest Geminoid Is Incredibly Realistic
Evan Ackerman, IEEE Spectrum Blog, 3/5/2011
I Want to See What You See:  Babies Treat 'Social Robots' as Sentient Beings
Science Daily, 10/14/11
"A team of University of Washington researchers is studying how infants tell which entities are "psychological agents" that can think and feel."

geminoid dk
Photo Credit:  IEEE Spectrum/Geminoid|DK




Ms. Geminoid:
geminoid f
Photos: Osaka University (left); Osaka University and Kokoro Company (right); composite (middle)



Get the Virtual Advantage (pdf)
NC Virtual Public School
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