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The one about Robots

The robot has to adapt itself to our way of expressing desires and orders and not the contrary.

Wikipedia contributors (2022)


I’ve been working on a lecture for a programme in Smart Health being offered at a University in China, so robots in healthcare and professional education has been on my mind over the past few months. We also recently purchased two social robots in the School of Health and Social Care, and are exploring how they might be integrated into the programmes we offer. Our interest in the school is to explore the clinical, social, ethical, political, and financial implications of robots in health and social care, and as such, they’re really there to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom.

While I can see the incredible potential of robots in healthcare and education, I’m still quite sceptical about what they can do right now. Robots are really limited in their functionality, and I worry that we end up trying to force them into practice because they’re New and Shiny. There is a real risk that they become gimmicks that are trotted out on university open days when they do a little dance, sing the welcome song, and then are shelved for another year. These are not going to be humanoid robots delivering lectures; at least, not yet.

On a related note, I watched Finch a few weeks ago and was amazed at how much affection I felt for something that isn’t even close to approximating a human face. If you’ve seen WALL-E and thought the animated robots from Pixar were cute, you’ll be even more impressed by what’s been done with Jeff (the robot in Finch). It’s incredible how much of our emotional responses can be drawn out through fairly simple body positions and movements, and tone of voice.


Selwyn, N. (n.d.). Robots in the classroom (Sofia Serholt). Meet the Education Researcher podcast. Retrieved September 29, 2022.

What happens when robots are introduced into classrooms? In this interview, Dr. Sofia Serholt (Chalmers University) talks about her work on robots in the classroom. We talk about varying levels of acceptance across education, the ethics of using robots with young children, as well as the dangers of over-hyping the future prospect of ‘socially-intelligent’ AI.

A short podcast (13 minutes) that covers what robots are currently capable of in the classroom, making the point that this is not ‘the future’ that’s being discussed. Having said that, the short answer seems to be that, right now, robots aren’t capable of all that much.


Sanders, T., Oleson, K. E., Billings, D. R., Chen, J. Y. C., & Hancock, P. A. (2011). A Model of Human-Robot Trust: Theoretical Model Development. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 55(1), 1432–1436.

This work explores the theoretical foundations of trust which provide the framework for the development of our model of human-robot team trust. The pragmatic purpose for this model is to provide a greater understanding of the factors that facilitate the development of human operator trust in robotic teammates. We predicate the model’s structure with our findings from a quantitative meta-analysis that we have completed. Our approach categorizes the dimensions influencing trust in human-robot interaction. To date, we have explored human, robot and environmental-based factors. Our road map for model development and refinement is here outlined.

This article is more than 10 years old and things may have changed. However, because this is looking at the relationship from what we expect of robots, I think that most of the factors affecting trust will be the same or similar.

The factors influencing human-robot trust relationships are categorised into robot characteristics, human characteristics, and environmental characteristics. The robot characteristics category is split into behaviour type, reliability, adaptability, proximity, and personality, each of which is further divided into more sub-categories. For example, the behaviour type category includes the idea that robots should express social behaviours, and that a robot’s appearance should map onto human expectations. There’s a lot more detail in the article, but it’s even well worth just having a quick look through Tables 1-3 for an overview of the categories of factors.


Do you love me? (2020). Boston Dynamics.

This is a short video put together by the team at Boston Dynamics, to usher in the 2021 new year. It starts off as an impressive display by a single Atlas robot, but then gets interesting at about 50 seconds in.

If you’re interested in some of what goes on in the background with getting robots to mimic human movement, you may enjoy this short (5:49 min) behind-the-scenes video explaining how Atlas works.

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