Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bandit the Robot


Computer scientists at the University of Southern California are in the process of developing a robot for therapeutic use with children who have autism. The robot is named "Bandit", and you can read more about him/her/it at:
www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-05/humanoid-robots-are-new-therapists

I don't know how to feel about this. The theory is that robots would draw autistic kids into social interactions because they "respond more naturally to machines than they do to people". Well, yes, but that is sort of the problem, and the reason that we are bankrupting ourselves paying for therapy with humans. Unless the plot of every science-fiction-action movie comes true and the planet is taken over by a superior race of androids, Audrey is going to have to learn to interact with and relate to human beings.

One of the stated goals of the project is for these robots to eventually sell for the price of a laptop, and while that would admittedly solve our financial problems, I'm not sure that I would be comfortable with a team of robots replacing my ABA therapists. Unless they could also be programmed to scrub my moldy shower grout and give me a pedi, I'm not sure it's worth it. The upkeep alone would probably quickly offset any benefits. Just who are you going to call when they go haywire and start dry humping the dishwasher? The Geek Squad?

But I do have to admit that as robots go, Bandit is pretty cute...

Bandit shows his school spirit and enjoys a refreshing beverage.















Uh oh. Bandit MAD.
















Bandit feel better now. Bandit want hug.










Audrey 20 years from now, laughing a little too hard at her date's joke.

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