Mining Movies - Technology and Learning Magazine


I Robot, You Student

For many people, the future lasts only as long as they do. So, if you are 50 and figure you have a few decades to go, then the future begins to peter out somewhere around 2025. That's the only explanation I have for why people still refuse to believe that one day holographic friends will be commonplace and robots that look like us will be doing our housework. If you think in terms of 20 years, it seems impossible. If you think in terms of 1000 years - a very conservative estimate of the future - it seems inevitable.

I Robot paints a picture of a time that feels inevitable. Set in Chicago in 2035, it is filled with robots that mingle quite naturally with humans. They do many of the things that we are supposedly too human to do, like collect garbage, walk the dog and deliver Fed Ex packages. The robots of course do everything faster and more efficiently than we do, without all that silly emotional stuff to get in the way. They are controlled by Asimov's three laws of robotics, which supposedly keep humans safe. But alas, the robots revolt, try to take over the humanoids and detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) saves the day.

Will our kids take robots to school one day? Sure, if you take a long view of the future and assume that school will exist in some form. Don't forget that if a hundred years ago someone told you that some day our kids would go to school with digital calculators you would have accused him of sorcery. What will robots do? The same things that calculators and computers do now, like remember what we can't and crunch numbers we don't want to. But they will also talk to our kids about their homework and protect them during recess. They will cross the line from machine to assistant...perhaps even friend.

One day personal robots will be the next must-have technology. Those without them will at first be considered quaint, then out of touch, and, ultimately, disadvantaged. One day it may just be affordable personal robots that finally ensure that no child is left behind - academically or on the playground.