SOME TEACHERS may come across as emotionless machines that churn through a curriculum and drone on about arithmetic, but in Japan there are plans to use actual robot teachers.
Japan’s Ministry of Education is chewing over the idea of training smart robots to teach students English, according to NHK.
If you’ve tried to have a conversation with Google Assistant, for example, you’ll probably raise an eyebrow at the idea of robot teachers given some of the most advanced AI-powered virtual assistants trip up over the Blighty’s mother tongue.
But the Ministry seems determined to use robots, to the extent that it will launch a trial next April that puts some 500 robots across Japanese schools to teach English. So if there’s a rise of the machines, it could happen in Japan first.
Not content with only using robots as the source of tech-fuelled English teaching, the Ministry will also create apps and host online sessions in which Japanese students can converse with native English speakers, all in the name of boosting Japan’s English speaking from 37th position out of 80, according to the EF English Proficiency Index in 2017.
Robot use in classrooms might seem a little like the early days of a dystopian society or like something plucked from the Black Mirror series. But robots are being increasingly used to supposedly make life easier and more informative; in some Chinese hotels, you can find SoftBank’s Pepper robot offering information to bemused guests and easing the burden of busy hotel staff.
This won’t amuse the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Wozniack and Elon Musk who are pretty apprehensive about the rise of AI and smart robots. But AI tech is getting more advanced and capable so whether they like it or not, there’s likely going to be a lot more robots scuttling around in the near future; hopefully doing something more useful than bothering humans. µ
Source : Inquirer