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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Why We Should Teach Kids to Call the Robot ‘It’ | Work & Family - The Wall Street Journal

Sue Shellenbarger, writes The Wall Street Journal's "Work & Family" Column reports, As a new generation grows up surrounded by artificial intelligence, researchers find education as early as preschool can help avoid confusion about robots’ role.

 Dash by Wonder Workshop is a popular educational robot that teaches coding to children 6 and up. It can dance and sing and responds to voices and sounds.
Photo: Wonder Workshop
If you want your preschooler to grow up with a healthy attitude toward artificial intelligence, here’s a tip: Don’t call that cute talking robot “he” or “she.”

Call the robot “it.”

Today’s small children, aka Generation Alpha, are the first to grow up with robots as peers. Those winsome talking devices spawned by a booming education-tech industry can speed children’s learning, but they also can be confusing to them, research shows. Many children think robots are smarter than humans or imbue them with magical powers.

The long-term consequences of growing up surrounded by AI-driven devices won’t be clear for a while. But an expanding body of research is lending new impetus to efforts to expand technology education beyond learning to code, to understanding how AI works. Children need help drawing boundaries between themselves and the technology, and gaining confidence in their own ability to control and master it, researchers say...

Dr. Jipson at Cal Poly advises parents to help their children design, program or build the AI devices they use. ”Help children figure out that they can control these tools—that we’re the ones who created that ability, and we can also make the best use of it,” she says. Invite them to question the credibility of the information generated by AI-powered tools, she says. “They need to know that there’s the potential for error or, unfortunately, for deliberate manipulation.”  

And watch your language. Dr. Jipson says has made a point with her two daughters, now 10 and 13, of calling robots “it” rather than “he” or “she.” 

Source: The Wall Street Journal