Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Robots and Autism

I had previously posted about how there are apps out there to help children learn empathy and social skills. I was a but upset about that in my post because I didn’t believe that was the right way to go about teaching those kinds of skills to children. There was a comment on my post from Annette and she brought up the topic of maybe these apps would be helpful for kids with learning disabilities and that opened up an entire new idea for me. Then, in class when we were presenting our videos of real world and reality simulation, someone showed a video of robots working and playing with autistic children to help them with the social skills that they innately lack.

            I’ve attached an article to this post, about a robot that helps a girl who suffers from Autism with social skills. The article states that before this robot there to help her she would cringe when people tried to hug her and her social skills just were not present. Since the inclusion of this robot that is similar to a doll (A super creepy doll) and it interacts with her like a child would and since her time with this robot has begun, she has become more social with other students and has begun to “hug everyone!” I think in situations like this is when robots or technology is good for teaching kids skills like social skills. What do you think? Should there be a distinction between who these apps are good for or not? Should all students be treated fairly? I think these are great assets for kids who have learning and social disabilities like Autism…but again, I am not a parent so I am not a solid judge of this…


  1. I wonder if technology in and of itself can ever be "good" or "bad." What is the difference between a technological capability and its implementation? And should ethics ever dictate which technologies are developed, or should ethics only matter in terms of which technologies we actually USE and how we use them? Good questions that I enjoyed mulling over after reading your post here.

  2. Robin, your comment was brought up some great points about the goodness of Technology. In another class we're talking about peak oil and how technologies were only able to be invented because of cheap energy. Jess, your post makes me think of a strange futuristic dystopia where all children are raised by robots and their algorithms dictate where a child may or may not end up in life. What would life be like if generation after generation became attached to technology as a mother and child are during their initial nurturing stages? Great post.

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  4. I'm curious how a robot that interacts with this autistic girl just like a child would can teach her social interaction skills better than a child would? Is this implying that robots are better at being people than people are at being people? Shouldn't there be something different about the robot, something either un-human or trans-human? And does this imply that autistic children relate more to robots that lack empathy and human emotions than with human children?


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