Sussex Robot Opera on Sky News

On Monday Kit Bradshaw of Sky News Swipe interviewed some of us involved with the recent robot operas at the University of Sussex (see http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/40568).

The report is due to air this weekend on Sky News at the following times (UK):

  • Friday: 2130
  • Saturday: 1030, 1430 & 1630
  • Sunday: 1130, 1430 & 1630

(Subject to cancellation if there are breaking news stories or other big events).

You will also be able to view it from Friday evening on the Swipe YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG8IrydigQfckEQNNdxoPiQ0GtAJLP5_5

I hope one particular bit didn’t get left on the cutting room floor.  When Kit asked the robot “How did it feel to sing in a robot opera?”, the robot replied “Hmm.  Well I’m sure it was wonderful for the other performers and the audience, but not for me.  I’m not conscious, so nothing feels like anything for me.  In fact, I don’t even understand the words I am saying right now!”

Hands-on learning with social robots in schools

img_1347I’ve been working with student assistant Deepeka Khosla to design hands-on social robotics curricula for school students. We delivered three sessions for year 7 and 8 students on January 12th using AiBO and NAO robots, which involved some of the students doing some (very-limited) coding of the robots, and inspection of their program and sensory states, a basic form of increasing “transparency” of social robots.
A key component of making robots more intelligibile is the development of “roboliteracy”: a good understanding of what can and what cannot be (currently) done/expected to be done by social robots. Familiarity can be a key component of de-mystification/anxiety reduction.
img_4691Current plans are underway to develop a more advanced, coding-based 3-hour learning session for year 9 students, for delivery over 2017-1018, starting in May. This will be marketed exclusively to girls. During my recent visit to the UAE I was inspired by what I saw, and the reports I heard, concerning the strong representation of women and girls in robotics education in that part of the world. Just letting girls here know about that, showing them photos of female robotics teams from there, etc., might be an example of a way to make the course content match that marketing aim.
Any suggestions/examples concerning robot curriculum in schools would be very welcome!
Support for development and delivery of these sessions has been provided by the Widening Participation initiative at Sussex.