3 Things People Can Do In The Classroom That Robots Can't

Anya Kamenetz, NPR, Aug 03, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

What bothers me most about this article is that the main premise is demonstrably false. Here is the main premise: "Three things people can do that robots can't: Tell a story. Solve a mystery. Give a hug." Now each of these is offered with a bit of description intended to make the behaviour more human. For example, "give a hug" actually means "empathy, collaboration, communication and leadership skills." But there's a bot that has already done this. Plus, there's already a literal hug bot. There are also numerous storytelling bots, including one that looks at a picture and tells you a story about it, an MIT storytelling companion, and robot journalists. Mystery-solving bots abound, including the diagnosis bots on WebMD, test failure analyzers, this countdown bot, a solver for 2048, Minesweeper solver, and more. The lesson here is, if you're going to make claims about what technology can't do and publish it in a national newsletter, do your research.

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