Friendly Robot Giving A High-Four Wave

The Ethical Responsibility Of A Robot Company

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Child-education is a hard job, but somebody, or something has got to do it. A Japan Times article describes RoHo, a robotic care system, could be ready for full-scale implementation in 2018 (, 2018). The prospect of robots in childcare roles ranging from smart baby monitors to robot-tutors is basically contentious.

Our Debate is whether parents, engineers and companies need to take the main moral obligation to ensure that children growing up with robots can get a better education rather than misleading.

The ethical responsibility of a robot company

1.1 Background

With the development of applied science, some simple family robots such as vacuum cleaners, smart ovens have been helping human for more than 30 years. And with the continuous development of artificial intelligence, many robot companies have been working on the educational robots already. This market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 21% by 2020 (Inc.,et al, 2018)

1.2 Robot development status

Now, robotics companies mainly put two types of robots into the market.

One is the assembled robot developed by Lego, which enables children to create and assemble different robots through their own creation.

On the one hand, it stimulates children’s creativity and hands-on ability. On the other hand, through Lego robot war, these robots can inspire children to get involved in computer science in their playing age.

The other type is the educational robot developed by Wonder Workshop, which combines kinds of learning apps to cultivate children’s interest in learning. In this way, children can learn knowledge spontaneously when they play the game.

  • Advantage
  • Combination of play and learning. – Edutainment
  • Building confidence when accomplish the mission of the game using the knowledge. – Confidence-building
  • Robots can store vast amount of knowledge and are available anytime and anywhere. – Easy to access. (NEVER STRIKE)
  • Less effort and time would be needed to ‘manufacture’ robot teachers. – Cost effective.

1.4 Risk and Responsibility

The all advantages of robots will bring huge benefit to its producing company. However, the company and engineers shouldn’t pursue the maximization of profits without bearing in mind that the ensuring the high-quality of products and service are also crucial parts of their ethical responsibility.

For example, according to the report, the educational robot displayed at the China Hi-Tech fair in 2016 bruised onlookers behind him due to the program-operating problem(, 2018). This is a safety issue caused by the negligence of product testing. It should be attributed to the company the its design engineers.

High-quality products and service will help the company broaden its markets by the good word of mouth. On the contrary, it may also bring crisis of confidence even ruin reputation in one night if something terrible happened, such as the personal data leaking of Facebook recently.

1.6 The Future of Robots

Although there are still unknown risks to educational robots, their development and application have become an irresistible trend. From a utilitarian perspective, the emergence of future education robots will benefit most people. This more efficient and cheaper method of education will spread further and affect more people.

In the future, robots may be able to replace teachers because they have a wealth of knowledge and can be rapidly updated. However, due to the uncontrollability of robots, this may also bring about unknown moral issues.

The Ethical Risk of a Robot Tutor

Because of financial instability and busy works, parents don’t have enough time to take care of their children. In school, teachers are often unable to focus on every conflict among students. Therefore, robot-tutors could be a good helper or even a replacement to figure out such problem effectively.

However, even though the emergence of robot in every aspect of daily life is an irresistible tendency, there are still several concerns around giving robots the power to education our offspring.

2.1 Mental Education Absence

What exactly effects will robot-tutors have on our kids’ growth if we really let them to mind our children? After all, they are just cold unfelling machine, and do not have the sensitivity or understanding necessary for kid-educate.

Therefore, we still need someone to look after child’s mental education even if we really introduce robots as the mainstream teachers in school or family.  Because except for knowledge, children still need to form their worldviews, values and outlooks on life during their study, where the artificial intelligence is apparently helpless. And the robot teacher also cannot replace humankind’s ability to teach children how to understand and maintain the various, complex human relationship, which we usually call EQ and is viewed as an essential ability to the future success.

2.2 Human-Contact Loss

Nowadays, the robot’s reaction to human’s feelings with matching facial expression or verbal comment has been enhanced by its hi-tech sensors and programs. (Yamaoka et al. 2007).

So another problem arising as a serious consequence of this is the illusion of true emotion interaction. Some children may believe by mistake that the human-like machine is able to understand and care, which could in turn increase the loss of human contact. If an educational robot is presented as a friendly companion, the children might imagine that the robot cares about them. They may choose to spend time with the robot in preference to their less predictable human peers.

In other words, some of their social skills may be impeded by the lovely robot accompany.

2.3 Data-Leaking

Robots accurate reaction benefits from its advanced sensors. But the sensor robots use to interact with children is also equipped with the function to sense, process and record the world around them (Sharkey, 2016). The more information they collect about children, of course, the more customized education they can provide.

So the potential risk companying with the considerate machine is that can anyone be absolutely sure that the gathered information wouldn’t be stored or accessed by any bad people for bad purposes?  The pervasive implication of robot in school may give rise to the concerns about whether the robot would act as a direct surveillance to the student’s life.

2.4 Conclusion

The prospect of the robot teacher is positive and irresistible. The robot teacher would be a good helper to cultivate human in their own effective way. As for total replacement of the real teacher, there is still a long way to go.


28 thoughts on “The Ethical Responsibility Of A Robot Company

  1. I think as an additional tool to be employer in the parent (carer) – child relationship robots can play a helpful role. As the primary caregiver, however, I have concerns. Children that are left along with a television are less socially developed than those that aren’t (There is a reference, but i can’t find it at the moment).

    Please develop your arguments in terms of the various ethical theories.

  2. I found this article very interesting!

    I was a little confused in terms of what a teaching robot would be though, but after reading the entire article, I could see that three main types are mentioned:

    1 – educational robots/toys that children can play with and learn from interaction with the device

    2- Robot tutors – that can actually help with schooling/educational content.

    3- Robot “nannies” – robots that can look after children after while parents are not present.

    I must say that I agree with educational/toy robots that children can play with; its a great way for children to get involved with computer science at a young age. However, this along with robot nannies is touchy especially when children are at too young of an age to understand that a robot is a robot, and has no feelings. Maybe it may be best that robots used in certain applications can only be used when children are of a certain age.

    This topic reminds me of the cartoon “The Jetsons” where caregiver robots were a norm actually, but as the cartoon suggests, main character robots are portrayed as having feelings, and us watching the cartoon identify and empathize with the robots since they are nearly on par with other human characters. Even here, you see a hint to a point mentioned in section 2.2 “Human contact loss” where children can be convinced that these robots have feelings and care about them when this is not the case at all!

    So overall, I must state that I agree with robots to increase our learning, but not to the point that we end up making robot friends, and it would be evil of companies to make and market robots as such!! But again, I don’t know how far to carry this comment, because even with regular inanimate objects we can grow attached to them. Some people have a favorite pens, or even toys, and we can feel upset when they are lost or broken!! So, one could even argue that developing emotional connections with robots would be inevitable! And this is an argument that pro-robot fans would use.

    Loved this article overall! Really had me thinking a lot about different angles of the issue.

  3. I agree with the arguments of considering the robert as an assistant rather than a replacement item. The population of using robot to replace existing labor force will be result in unemployment rate increase, let alone replace teacher that the most important role throughout our lives since childhood.

  4. This article inspired me. I am an MSc student of Bioprocess Engineering. I am asking myself can we just consider education process as an engineering process?
    Can we measuring and modeling factors which are important for childhood development?
    If we can do that, we may able to build some standardized education modules which allow education process engineer to design an education process for an individual child.

  5. This is a very interesting debate. But I disagree with one of the advantages of robots in the article, that is robots never strike. The strike is very important in our society which can make our world more democratic. This is very important to learn by children, so if the universities use robots to substitute teachers, that must be a disaster…haha

  6. This is an interesting research. With the development of society, the education of robot has been a hot topic. Robot just can be an assistant of human rather than take place them. Robot just finish the task of education according to the system which is made by human advanced. Thus, they lack of the liability of perception and cannot realize the emotion of children, also they cannot take an effective communication with children. Take a simple instance, if some children do not understand some points of the knowledge, human can realize the confuse of children from their faces, but robot cannot. Expect the reasons mentioned above, it also cause the problem of unemployment. Thus, human still be the major and even the most important roles in the process of education.

  7. Inspiring research!
    from my point of view, the robot toy can also be equipped with nanny’s function for the household occasion. but the lack of emotional expressions is a point needs to be concerned since infants would take initial socialization before starting to speak.
    one thing needs to keep the eyes on for robot teacher is- would the children duplicate the robot’s behaviour base on their responses toward students?

  8. Great topic.

    With robot, the chances of error are almost nil and greater precision and accuracy is achieved. However, robot tutor shouldn’t be to replace people educators.One of the main disadvantage of robot is the cost incurred in the maintenance and repair. Robots also don’t perceive student emotions whether the students are interested in the teaching content.
    In my mind, It should make teachers’ jobs easier instead of replacing them. People educators could use robot to read students’ handwriting and score the answer based on the answer key.

  9. I agree with the statement in 2.1 Mental Education Absence. I think the only thing which makes human be distinguished form the animal is the art. Similarly, no matter how robots advance, they can not understand the art, even AI. They can not create the Stars by Van Gogh and Michelangelo’s sculpture, so how can they teach children arts? The debate of article is very meaningful.

  10. ALSO, This article has a very good idea. The rapid development of AI causes more and more concern today, but could we control it? Robots with AI will be wildly used in the future, so robot companies should take resoponsibility to the producus. And parents can not teach children with only robots. This is my opinion. But the article seems to be lack of arguments.

  11. using robot teacher can avoid some ethical problems, such as parents wouldn’t need to worry about the physical even sexual abuse from teachers. But the underlying problem may be children may learn less about interpersonal relationship from their teachers. Because children still need to grow up, to deal with other people, so if the teacher in school do not teach them how to deal with those sophisticated relationship issue, they may have to face them in society as green hands.

  12. the robot teacher will be unstoppable trend, so there is no means to discuss about its good or bad, we need to focus on how to apply it more wisely, how to avoid its dark side!

  13. I would prefer the robot teacher!
    I believe we all have met something like that: Your teacher is in a bad mood today, maybe because her husband have an affair, or his car broken half the way to school, nothing to do with you, but your teacher just throw all the bad luck to your lecture, showing unpatience to your question, more angry to your medium performance in the exam, something that’s so unprofessional and may ruin your class even your confidence in this subject. But the robot teacher if applied widely in classroom, we can enjoy pure pleasure of knowledge, without any unnecessary interruption from the human emotion. Wonderful! let’s swim in the sea of knowledge freely.

  14. I do not like the robot teacher. Even though they own the most updated knowledge, but I suppose the true value of teacher is to grant the students the critical thinking mode, not just the knowledge itself.
    The robot is unable to be creative, unable to tailor the lecture according to students’ features, they say the knowledge, not teach!

  15. Although there are a lot of advantages that the robot teacher has, and maybe it will save the human power in the area of education, I still hold the opinion that robot teacher will take place of the human beings, for a human teacher cannot be seen as the machine to spread the knowledge in a typical area, to some extends it can be a representation of humanisation. Moreover, most of the teachers play an important part in process of people`s growing up, which is the function that a robot teacher will never replace.

  16. I am a student of Molecular Biotechnology. Actually, this topic really novel and inspire me a lot.Because before reading this paper, a limitation acknowledge about the application of robot I have was that the robot only could be considered to produce some products or release the human being from a dangerous job. My opinion is the development of the robot for children education is necessary although children maybe grow up with mental education absence.

  17. Very interesting article.
    Although robots can store a wealth of knowledge, they will not be involved in personal emotions when they teach children and they will never strike. However, robots have certain limitations. For example, the way robots handle affairs is inflexible. They do not have the ability to teach children to judge things right and wrong. They cannot communicate well with children and show true emotions. Therefore, in the education of children, robots can only help parents and teachers conduct supplementary education. Parents and teachers use their words and behaviors to directly educate children and serve as a reference standard for children to handle things. In addition, parents and teachers can correct their children’s mistakes if they find that children have some wrong judgments and behaviors. Therefore, educating children is the primary responsibility and obligation of parents and teachers, and robots cannot replace teachers and can only be used as an aid.

  18. Have you guys think about the price problem? I means have you considered about designing robot with different level of function and give them different price so everyone wanna use the robot teacher can choose it according to their exact need and the budget? Such as someone may only need the robot teacher to teach them the content on the textbook, someone may need help to solve their confuse about the course? I assume the price may also be a problem you should consider before it’s really put into market, because if the price is too high with the powerful function most people do not really need it. It would also affect your company benefit.

  19. I do not prefer the robot teacher if I can choose the teacher for my future children. I think the job of the teacher is not just teach the knowledge, they also need to give guidance to the students. Because I believe in the future, everyone will have to put most of their time do their professional work, even the parents can not spare too much time and energy on their children’s education. It may sound irresponsible, but i believe in the future, the teacher may hold most of the work to teach children what is good and bad, and how to be a good people in the future. we can’t depend on the robot to do it, right?

  20. Why you will think about applying the robot in the classroom? Would you prefer to be taught by the cold machine or you would like to see a live human teacher who can inspire you when you meet some hard question, who will care about you when you are in sick and need to see the doctor? Come on, this is a society of human, and we human need to communicate with others to share our emotion. That’s one of the energy stimulate everyone work hard and concentratedly.

  21. I love robot teacher. compared to human teacher, I believe I can have a high price-performance ratio on the robot teacher. Robot teacher is manufactured not cultivated, so it would be more cheap and more professional, I do not need to worry about any mistake they have about the knowledge. Would that be perfect? low price, better teacher.

  22. I love the comment that mention the education price. Take China for example, you can’t image in China how much parents need to pay on their children’s education. It takes nearly half income for a middle-class family. Everybody agree that education is a primary right for human, but the high price make the basic right hard to be protected. The large-scale produced robot may be a good solution for this problem.

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