Posted by: crudbasher | September 27, 2012

Can A Child Love A Robot?

Today my wife is officially halfway through creating our first child! (I’m not sure how else to describe it). We are busy planning the nursery and we have gotten our first few baby clothes and gifts. It’s really fun!

One of the things I have been thinking about is the toys he will play with. I remember I had a pair of stuffed animals that I was really attached to for years. I think every kid does the same. A favorite toy is a constant companion and tireless playmate. They willingly participate in all sorts of imaginative adventures.

Then I came across this video from Cynthia Breazeal speaking at TED. The title of the talk is The rise of personal robots.

Cynthia talks a lot about how we can interact with technology much more effectively when the technology is personalized and humanized. I would direct your attention to two sections.

First is at 2:10. In it a furry robot named Leo learns about Cookie Monster. What blew me away is I found myself thinking that it had emotions. Perhaps we have been conditioned by popular entertainment? I have spoken about smart toys before, so I can imagine something like Leo that a child can talk to and interact with. Keep in mind, that children adapt to technology very effortlessly. Marc Prensky calls them Digital Natives. I look at it as a side effect of the neuroplasticity of children. Whatever the reason, kids will accept robots like this without question.

The second section is at 11:50. In it some children interact with a robot in both virtual space and physical space. Notice that as far as the kids are concerned it’s the same object in both. They don’t seem draw a distinction between the two. This tells me this new generation will accept online learning much more readily than older generation with classroom experiences.

Implications for Education

I wish I had a dollar (actually let’s make it 10,000 dollars, why limit things? lol) for every time I read some teacher say “Computers will never replace teachers”.  Often times that is followed up with “Computers can’t give a hug or make a connection with the student”. This video seems to indicate that you can’t take all that for granted. A smart toy will evolve with the child. It will like the same things and always be there for them. I am certain that kids will love these toys. The toys will be net connected and will be able to download lessons to present to the students. I’m sure a lot of the lessons will still be developed by teachers but writing lessons and presenting them are two different tasks.

This video does set up the final posting on this week’s theme which is “what should children be learning?” See you tomorrow.



  1. Notice that as far as the kids are concerned it’s the same object in both. They don’t seem draw a distinction between the two.

    I don’t know that I quite agree. For example, they know not to try to walk into the screen or pick up the object while it’s onscreen. I would say that they realize it’s the same CHARACTER in both.

    • I reread what I wrote and agree with your comments. I think I was trying to say that but my meaning didn’t come across correctly. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. […] Can A Child Love A Robot? […]

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