Japan is a country that loves its robots. From elder care, to pet ownership, to pint-pulling, one is hard-pressed to find a problem in Japan that has can’t be addressed by a machine.
Continuing in that vein, the Japanese ministry of education is looking to bring AI robots into classrooms starting next year, in an effort to help students learn English more effectively. The current model sees too few qualified human English teachers in the system. This is due to lack of applicants, as well as funds to pay them.
Part of a phalanx of tech that includes tablet games and apps, and online sessions with native speakers, the robots will be rolled out to an expanded student base soon. (English is a mandatory subject for 12 to 15-year-old students; in 2020 they will begin learning the language at age 10.)
Said an unnamed official in charge of international education; “AI robots already on the market have various functions. For example, they can check the pronunciation of each student’s English, which is difficult for teachers to do.”
It seems undisputed that these bots will be a benefit — so my burning question is, what will they look like?? Is it better to have a robot teacher that inspires uncanny-valley fear or empathy? Having had human teachers at both ends of the spectrum, I wonder what tack Japan’s new robo-educators will take!
This week Facebook had a data breach affecting 50+ million users…Then there was a CBC Marketplace investigation that exposed how smart home devices are not only creating convenience and smart homes for their owners but are also engendering huge security vulnerabilities for those same owners. Think about how convenient it is to control the thermostat in your home by your smartphone. Or unlock the doors before you get out of the car. Don’t trust the nanny or want to check on what the dogs are doing while you are away? Those examples are not science fiction and just as easily hacked as they are accessed by your smartphone. Another example:
“A website called Insecam, thought to be hosted in Russia, live streams footage from thousands of cameras still using factory-default passwords, often without the knowledge of the cameras’ owners.
The site grabbed headlines last year when it was found to be streaming detailed images of students inside a school in Nova Scotia, prompting an investigation from the province’s privacy commissioner.”
After reading the next example I contemplated getting rid of the Internet in my home:
“The family uses a Wink Connected Home Hub, allowing them to control their lights and front door with a smartphone app.[..] The ethical hackers got the password…And it gave the hackers the ability to send voice commands to the couple’s Amazon Echo, where they could potentially place Amazon orders using Kenwood’s stored credit card information”
Just for “fun”, I encourage you, dear readers, to have a closer look at that CBC article and see if you recognize any potential pitfalls that may affect you. But also, use common sense – you do not need to secure your Facebook account if you don’t put anything private onto it. And don’t use the same password across all your online accounts. Yes, I know it’s a pain, but think about it – once the bad guys get your password they have access to everything! Enable two-step authentication on your accounts if it is available. Read those terms and conditions when you sign up to various sites as it will help with your insomnia and shock the hell out of you…And use common sense!