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Ms. Roboto
October 7, 2010 2:51 PM   Subscribe

A robotic teacher, Ms. Saya, conducts her first class at an elementry school in Tokyo.

Before becoming an elementary school teacher, she found work as a secretary. She can express six basic emotions - surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, sadness and is multilingual. Here is a video of her working (which, unfortunately, does not appear to have subtitles.)
posted by lauratheexplorer (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Robots that look human tend to be a big hit with young children and the elderly," Hiroshi Kobayashi, Tokyo University of Science professor and Saya's developer, told The Associated Press Wednesday. "Children even start crying when they are scolded."

So, Japan, you openly pride yourself on your ability to generate robots with the specific purpose of terrifying children. I approve.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:59 PM on October 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


Japan and other nations are hopeful robotics will provide a solution for their growing labor shortage problem as populations age. But scientists express concern about using a machine to take care of children and the elderly.

This is not correct (shame on you, AP!). Care providers in many different countries are looking to save on labour costs by deploying technical solutions (bed sensors, patient tracking, electronic records), so Japan is no exception. This robot bullshit looks good when it's trotted out once a month by hacks who have no knowledge of Japan, but (and I've said this before), these sorts of gimmicky stunts involving robots are little more than PR/IR stunts, designed to boost shareprices or whatever.

In this case, the robot was designed by an egg-head at Tokyo University, and researchers are pretty notorious for developing "useless" technologies with almost no commercialization potential.

Even more:

Still, it's just remote-controlled by a human watching the interaction through cameras, he said.

How this is any better than the 40-year-old animatronics at Disneyland (or Chuck E Cheese) I have no idea.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:01 PM on October 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


The future? I say live it or live with it!
posted by hippybear at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are kidding right? Any teacher that lets her kids pinch her nose, poke her in the eye, and grab her boobs is NOT going to be able to do much effective classroom behavior management.

This isn't a robot, it's a tape recorder...
posted by HuronBob at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2010


KokuRyu: “In this case, the robot was designed by an egg-head at Tokyo University, and researchers are pretty notorious for developing "useless" technologies with almost no commercialization potential.”

But that's not quite true. There's plenty of commercialization potential. They mentioned it at the end of the article:

from article: “But would he create a robot in human form, say, a fantasy friend with movie-star looks? ‘Sure,’ he says, ‘If you're willing to pay.’ That made-to-order robot will cost about 5 million yen ($51,000), he said.”

The market they're shooting for is sleazy eccentric millionaires desiring animatronic replicas of movie stars.
posted by koeselitz at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are some really interesting developments happening in robotics now. But this really isn't one of them. This is just a photo up with some cute kids poking an unimpressively mechanized mannequin.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2010


*photo op
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2010



The market they're shooting for is sleazy eccentric millionaires desiring animatronic replicas of movie stars.


A skinjob cut to look like Lana Turner is still a skinjob.
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on October 7, 2010


Any teacher that lets her kids pinch her nose, poke her in the eye, and grab her boobs is NOT going to be able to do much effective classroom behavior management.

I am not joking when I say that this kind of behaviour is not at all unusual in a Japanese classroom. For a while one of my students took to spitting on a female teacher's car from the classroom window. Other students threatened to kill me.

All part of growing up, I guess.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I for one welcome our new robot overlords

That was too easy
posted by cotterpin at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2010


Did they make it look like the late Michael Jackson on purpose?
posted by Cranberry at 3:49 PM on October 7, 2010


This is probably the result of a lousy morning (yesterday a kid was locked in his locker at my school, and I did the only thing I knew to do, which was to get the kid's homeroom teacher. That fuck, and a couple other teacher get the kid out, then spend the next 30 minutes screaming at the kid for getting himself locked in the locker, then screaming at the only kids who were still around, because, y'know, they were trying to get help, demanding to know who did it. Of course, when I asked him this morning what happened, the pigfucker told me not to worry about it)...

That robot is probably a better teacher than a good number of people I've worked with in Japanese schools.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:03 PM on October 7, 2010


Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad
I'm...

what?
posted by Zed at 4:25 PM on October 7, 2010


But did the students try to kancho the robot?
posted by snwod at 4:42 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu and Ghidorah, you're making Battle Royale sound like an inevitability.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:13 PM on October 7, 2010


inevitability? A dream, I tell you. Oh, how I wish... (just got back from first period, wondering if I should post an Ask to see if anyone got the number of that truck driving school I saw on TV)
posted by Ghidorah at 5:31 PM on October 7, 2010


Say what you will about the 'success' of the Asian school systems. Here in Korea, they try and learn and learn English like it's a Math or a Science. They literally know more words than I do, but they have no idea how to put them into a sentence. They just rotely memorize these enormous vocabulary lists.

Last week I had a guy on a bus ask me "Are you somnolent?". I told him No and asked "How was your day?" at which point he blushed, looked at the floor and said "English, no".

It's exactly in line with that way of thinking to presume that a robot could teach kids perfectly.
posted by GilloD at 6:44 PM on October 7, 2010


To be fair, in North America, teaching second- or foreign-language acquisition is hardly any better than Japan or Korea. For example, compulsory French is taught in many Anglo Canada schools from Grade 8 to Grade 11, and hardly any student leaves with any fluency. Language classes in Japanese middle school do emphasize a communicative approach, but when it comes down to it, not everyone is going to master a second language. It's kind of like saying that because everyone takes gym class they should all be competent soccer players or sprinters or javelin throwers.

Of course, kids in Germany or Holland or Sweden seem to be able to speak English perfectly fine (and many people in India or Africa speak multiple languages with some competence), but this is probably the result of exposure and opportunities to actually use a foreign language.

The Japanese elementary school system is great - I think it is better than what my son experiences here in Canada. The Japanese middle school system is not great (it's purpose is to grind you down) but it still does a great job of teaching the entire bell curve. The Japanese high school system (10, 11, 12) is pretty terrible. The more capable students are sent on together to study for university entrance exams, while the less capable students are sent as a group to "kyouyou" or minimum essentials programs, which prepare them for a life as convenience store clerks or hookers. The lucky kids get sent to vocational school, and end up working and making money right after grad.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:05 PM on October 7, 2010


Any teacher that lets her kids pinch her nose, poke her in the eye, and grab her boobs is NOT going to be able to do much effective classroom behavior management.
Look up Kancho
posted by delmoi at 7:17 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think American language education is much better. On the other hand, my kids have been taking English classes since the 1st grade. Some of them still don't know the alphabet. I could write you 10,000,000 words on why that is, but a lot of it is the disregard for the importance of speaking the language.

The rest of your comment sounds exactly like Korea, especially the stratified high schools.
posted by GilloD at 7:19 PM on October 7, 2010


What KokuRyu says is pretty much right on the money. Japanese elementary schools are pretty good, and if I manage to spawn, I'd like to send little Ghidorah to a Japanese elementary school. They spend a lot of time on learning to work within a group, respect boundaries, and support each other. It's good stuff. Then they go to junior high, get slapped with a uniform and teachers who will spend ten minutes yelling at them (at the top of their lungs, in front of their entire cohort) because they're wearing socks that have stripes, which is a no-no.

Things I've seen first hand: Students who've lived overseas being bullied/ostracized for having superior English skills, biracial children being told that dyeing their hair is against the rules, and that they have to change it back to black immediately (when, of course, they're natural brunettes or blondes), kids with asperger's being removed from gen-pop because rather than try to stop the bullying, it's easier just to remove the 'problem.'

And of course, there's what happens when a student volunteers to answer a question, but get's it wrong. I've seen teachers, in front of the whole class, go off on the volunteer for wasting time and being stupid.

And GilloD is right on. Communicative English is almost unheard of. Grammar is taught like math, and reading consists of translating, word by word.

Strangely, though, the first (and only) kancho I ever received was from a university freshman. It was not a pleasant experience.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:01 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look up Kancho

Robots got it covered. Look up Boong-ga Boong-ga.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:25 AM on October 8, 2010


Here in Korea, they try and learn and learn English like it's a Math or a Science. ... They just rotely memorize these enormous vocabulary lists.

This is not how you learn math or science either.
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I had a robot math professor in college! One day the fire alarm went off right behind him and he kept lecturing, without even raising his voice. Most of the students left but he didn't seem to notice. Another time I was the only student who showed up to class (there were only 5 or 6 other people registered) and he continued his usual drone without even acknowledging me.
posted by miyabo at 5:54 AM on October 8, 2010


KokuRyu and Ghidorah, you're making Battle Royale sound like an inevitability.

I'd like to think of a Japanese version of Columbine or Virgina Tech (where students slaughtered their classmates), but I can't.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:23 AM on October 8, 2010


Actually, in some ways, that already happened this year. There was the case where one girl was jealous of another girl's popularity (the girl sat next to her, her friends were always encroaching on her space), so she stabbed her in the classroom. A week later, a kid in a different city stabbed a girl in class. He said that the murder the week before seemed like a good idea, and that he wanted to do the same. He didn't care who he killed, just wanted to do it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:18 AM on October 8, 2010


I suppose the traditional apple will now be supplanted by some AppleTM product.
posted by Kabanos at 8:49 AM on October 8, 2010


I believe that this may alienate the children even more from the whole class enviroment. I wouldnt like to make a statement like this but Japan has a very peculiar aspect about human relationships and behaviour. For us in the west is a cold 'robotic' life style ...Being greek you can imagine how 'cold' i find this up bringing...Why would a population allow their children to became so impersonal growing up? Are they planning something we dont know?....I am just thinking...
posted by tatiana7 at 1:02 AM on October 9, 2010


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