Japan already has robot spokeswomen. But now the land of Godzilla and Hello Kitty is going a step further: robot teachers. According to the AP, the first such android educator, named Saya, "can express six basic human emotions," which is more than most flesh-and-blood teachers can usually muster. The emotions, by the way, are surprise, fear, disgust, anger, sadness and happiness. She'll need the first five for the daily grind of public schools. The last will come into play when she finally retires. Or switches off. Or upgrades. Or whatever robots do. Saya was first developed as a receptionist, then upgraded to teaching, which proves that workplace sexism also applies to servomechanisms. (She usually has more facial skin than this, too.) Apparently, Japan and other nations hope robots will alleviate labor shortage problems and help care for the elderly population, but one egghead moans: "Simply turning our grandparents over to teams of robots abrogates our society's responsibility to each other, and encourages a loss of touch with reality for this already mentally and physically challenged population." Consider: Isn't plopping them down in front of a TV in the community room pretty much the same thing?
—Posted by David Gianatasio