Robotics/AI are Important to Public Education Curriculum

Robotic Psychology or Robotic Psyche could be standard curriculum for technology and robotics in secondary public education. Robotics course offerings like engineering and programming are standard at both secondary and the university level. In order to promote advancement in robotics, classes that provide a comprehensive survey are warranted.  Robotic Psyche aims to democratize robotics education and bridge that gap by providing a curriculum that makes robotic/AI learning more equitable to a larger group of students. Presently, humans are working with cobots/AI. Course offerings where humans can begin to identify and visualize their lives interacting and working with cobots/AI are prudent. Humans are socially interacting with robots, machines or artificial life forms at an increasing rate. Naturally, technological subjects will dominate the public education landscape in the future.

Robo Psyche students interpret the Robot Hierarchy of Needs

Broadening the horizons of education and truly embracing all aspects of robotics/AI are important academic and economic endeavors. There is a lack of articulation between the secondary and university level. Secondary school should begin to offer relevant courses that will provide opportunities in the future, perhaps in a vocational fashion. Eventually, it may be the case that roboticists and makers may not need university. The future will be about robotics/AI, building, designing, thinking and how both humans and robots socially influence technology.

As humans there are some negative reactions that have emerged over the past 60 years because of our interaction with machines and science fiction. Asimov’s, (1977), I, Robot, explores where humans and robots coexist. Although science fiction, the Laws of Robotics were a reference for how humans wish to interact with robots.  Humans continued to create sets of rules based off those principles explored in science fiction and design these machines following those general laws. In some cases, those laws are now antiquated and broken and antiquated. Barrat’s (2013, p. 20) book, Our Final Invention, provides a better explanation. This among other sources are used in class. In order to study robots’ usefulness, purpose and interaction; humans must observe what they can offer as companions and assistants. In the robotics world, there are even models of the hierarchy of robotic needs, a nod to Maslow (1943) and the Human Hierarchy of Needs.

Autonomy legislation among other topics provides new political, psychological and economic issues for humanity to figure out. Markoff (2015, p. 15) questions if robots will be autonomous and have rights. Other interesting aspects of the class, are examining robotic population density and if there is an impact on humans the higher the robotic population. Robotic Psyche observes the psychological effects on humans in relation to their interaction with their robotic counterparts.

When shown this photo class members remark that the robot is lonely

The idea of robots/AI being anthropomorphic or having a life like quality can be disturbing for some humans, which may be a cultural matter. Robots are perceived differently in the east due to popular culture; at the same time they are perceived negatively in the western world, also due to popular or sci fi culture. When humans do not understand something they fear it and dismiss it, instead of dismissal humans need to embrace fears and misunderstandings about technology. When shown this photo class members remark that the robot is lonely

There is a paradigm that robots will take human jobs, Williams (2017) explores in a recent New York Times article. These issues are where psychology and history are relevant to provide a comprehensive view of this interaction for the future.  Ford’s (2015), the Rise of the Robots, also highlights jobs that will be outsourced to robots. Robotic Psyche aims to motivate students to create new jobs within the various fields of technology and be ready to fill jobs after graduation.

Robotics/AI are disruptive technologies and although interruptive; they can also be productive. Kurzweil (1977, p. 106) refers to the “exploding pace of technology,” which only warrants more classes on the subject matter. The course offering of Robotic Psychology and Robotic History may seem bizarre or premature to others who may not be in the robotics field but this is the present state of technology and education. The projection is in 10 years that this curriculum will be common. If humans wish to remain relevant then the study of human robot interaction and the psychology behind it are necessary.  Reben (2015) indicates how robots can allow our minds to be fooled and how humans are prone to trust robots. Humans are inclined to trust machines. Humans assign value to machines like cars and cell phones sometimes even naming them. Some cultures even hold ceremonies for their “deceased robots” showing their connection. All of these aspects, articles and sources about robotics are explored and discussed in class.

Course Description

Robotic Psyche is a yearlong, daily course that aims to stimulate awareness of robotics and enhance the Social Studies, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Language Arts and Mathematics Departments’ course offerings. The first half of the year consists of surveying the history of robotics, machines and automation. The second half of the year will be a psychological survey of humans, robots and their interaction.

Robotic Psyche is a class to help humans grasp the idea of working with robots/AI. Students taking this class should be curious about a career in robotics, however it is not necessary. A purpose of this course is to increase students’ motivation, awareness and psyche when interacting with robots/AI. For so long, robotics has seemed to be reserved for scientists and engineers. An aim of the course is to expose students to robotics who may have been intimidated or had difficulties with courses like science and math. Primarily, students will map, observe and design parameters in which humans, robotics/AI coexist.

Students will learn about how humans interact with humanoids and robots/AI. Students learn the history of robotics as it applies to science fiction, popular culture and real world robotic applications. Students also learn the psychological impact interaction has with robots on humans. Following are some of the focus questions guiding the class. Wakefield’s (2017) BBC article queries, “Do humans require total control in the form of a kill switch?” Will humans subjugate robots? Will robots be friends and become part of human families? How will humans move forward as human and machine?  How will humans communicate with robots? How will robots teach humans? Mindell (2015, p. 5) inquires, “What image will we make them in?” How will humans change robots to be more alike and different from them? Humans are socially interacting with machines or artificial life forms daily, both in life and class. Humans want to know how they learn from robots.



Robotic Psychology is the first course of its kind in the world offered at the public secondary education level. The course was created by the author and maintained by ELI Consulting. There are variations of this course called Human Robot Interaction at the college and graduate levels through institutions like Harvard, Stanford, Cal Poly and MIT. These institutions’ courses have a heavy concentration in mathematics and science.  Robotic Psyche can satisfy various requirements in multiple disciplines like history, technology or could also be considered a psychology course.

The course consists of reviewing and creating projects of robotic design, AI concepts and observation of technological processes. Class activities include: project based learning, reviews of white papers, writing reflection papers on scholarly journals and articles and examining research from various robotic companies actively pursuing the design and implementation of robotics.  

A Robotic Psyche student starting a ruler print

The course is always in the process of being refined. Year by year, various aspects are added, for example, 3D printing, drone flight and the use of virtual reality recently have a focus. In many cases, some students may never get the exposure to such technology and innovative thought in a regular technology course. Access to the subject gets them interested in jobs that are not created yet. The larger goal is to make sure to meet the demands of this burgeoning tech economy and workforce. College and the workforce presently are in need of tech students, workers and makers.

In the United States, Woodlands High School, located in Hartsdale, New York, had an administration that was visionary enough to allow the conducting of the course for the past 5 years.Students printed 3D rulers for the blind, built robots, received internships at local tech firms, and did aerial photography with the class drones.  After reaching out to 10 alumni of the first Robotic Psychology class; 8 are seeking or working in technology. Students are curious about robotics and the course helps motivate them to seek careers in technology. Several companies became, “friends of the class” by providing time and resources so students could learn more about technology. Students were impressed by being able to use the telepresence robot from Double Robotics. They were able to be in the library in New York and control a robot in California. Students also were able to see the microchip from EmoShape that allows humans and AI to understand emotion and communicate. Navya has taught the students about automated transportation. Sanbot, taught the class about how elder care may look in the future.

Robotic Psyche is Necessary for the Economy and the Future                                                    

Robotic/AI Human Interaction classes could be implemented in public education. Robotic Psyche will align students and humans in general for success in these technological subjects. Humans and public education are not meeting the demands that the development of robotics/AI are creating. Human robot interaction classes are being taught in college but not at the public secondary school level. Humans wish to strengthen proficiency in robots/AI and courses like this are a great step. By the time students get to college they may not have had a chance to have exposure to other areas of robotics/AI in their secondary education and may forego that option. Robotic Psyche will motivate students towards thinking about robotics in terms of design, social interaction and implementation of robotic/AI systems. The aim is to ultimately round out the field of robotics/AI to create jobs, businesses and perhaps a firmer grasp on tech. The ultimate goal is to spread the idea of the course to create equity for students who wish to go into robotics/AI. Robotic Psychology provides the curriculum of the future and is doing so presently.

SOURCES

Asimov, I. (1977).  I, Robot. Gnome Press

Barrat, J. (2013). Our Final Invention Artificial Intelligence and the Human Era. Thomas Dunne Books. New York.

Double Robotics. 2018.

EmoShape. 2018.

Ford, M. (2015). Rise of the Robots. BASIC. New York.

Kurzweil, R. (1977). The Age of Spiritual Machines. Penguin. New York. P. 106.

Markoff, A. (2015). Machines of Loving Grace: Quest for Common Ground. Harper Collins. New York. P. 15

Maslow, A. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation.

Navya. 2018.

Mindell, (2015). Our Robots. Ourselves. Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy. VIKING. New York.

Reben, A. (July 15, 2015). How Robots Mess with our Minds. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150715-how-robots-mess-with-our-minds

Sanbot. (2018).

Wakefield, J. (Jan. 2017). http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38583360

Williams, A. ( Dec. 2017). Will Robots take our Children’s Jobs. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/11/style/robots-jobs-children.html

Related: