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23.03.2017


Case-lesson “What is an android?”
Case-lesson “What is an android?”

Category: Mathematics and computers

Level (grade): 4-6

Subject: Computers and programming

Objective: To uncover the mystery of “what is an android” and find out about its place in the modern world.

What information is waiting for me here?

  • How does an android differ from other robots?
  • Who is more clever and talented: a human or an android?
  • Do robots have rights?
  • Can an android rejoice or grieve?
  • What fundamental and practical knowledge will I need?
  • What androids are the most famous?
6 scans of the subjects, phenomena and practices:
Introduction

What is an android? It’s a robot, similar to human. But how similar? Is it only about appearance or there is something else that makes it an anthropoid creature indeed? And if it is similar to humans, can it do everything that we can? Can it feel, have mood, sympathize?

Which skills does android have, which can it acquire and how to teach it? All these questions are raised as the modern challenge not only for engineers and scientists but also for the whole society. Robots, upgrading, are becoming sociable – the inseparable part of human community. So where does the border, separating androids from humans, lie?

Technology

It’s hard to surprise modern people with a robot. Robots have become an integral part of our mundane life: starting from robots at factories and ending with animatronic toys which, in fact, are also robots. A fluffy toy kitten, so similar to a real one, a puppy which is difficult to distinguish from a live dog, a pony which can make somebody want to offer it some fresh herbs – they are all robots.

And if the robot looks like human, it is called android (humanoid). Because many tasks that this robot can meet, can be better accomplished with hands similar to ours. And it is easier to move on two “human” legs.

Similar in meaning but not quite identical is a word “cyborg”. It means “cybernetic organism”. And cyborgs don’t always have humanoid form. The main emphasis is made on the association (symbiosis) of artificial computer intelligence and biological object.

If to try and compare an industrial robot, an android and a human (approximately), we’ll get the following table:

 

The CPU of an android is, in fact, its “brain”. They are united with analyzer system (analyzers of sound, images etc.) which can be compared to the eyes and ears of the robot. Sensory system controls the robot’s environment, sends signals that are processed by the CPU. And then the CPU sends a signal to certain drive units, they work and the robot performs some action or movement.

The CPU operates under a specially written program. The more complicated it is, the more “advanced” android is. It also increases the number of actions it can do.

Every robot’s step is the result of CPU’s work. Our steps also controlled by a CPU – our brain, what we consider as a “natural state” so we don’t even notice it. And our “program” is written in natural way: a child learns to roll, sit, get up, crawl, and then it makes the first step.

If we can teach the program to control robot’s steps, we can program it to dance:

But, unlike humans, this robot doesn’t make this dance up. It will only do to what it’s been programmed.

Some androids are capable of making simple decisions. To accomplish that their CPUs must submit to the artificial intelligence. How does it differ from the ordinary android? It can process “new” data, compare it to already known facts, analyze and make decisions, based on all of it. Such robot will get up if it falls down:

To teach an android something, this something is required to be written in its program. The application is based on the algorithm – a sequence of commands that the android must perform. The more detailed and complex the algorithm is, the more developed the program will be.

The algorithm may include loops – a few repetitive actions (groups of actions). Our movements while walking are also to be considered a loop because we repeat them as many times as it is needed to get to some place.

Also, the algorithm may accept branching – the opportunity to choose an action depending on conditions. For example, you are offered some candies. Which would you choose? Obviously, the one you like the most. And if none of them is your favorite, then which one? This is what is called branching! You choose for yourself, but a robot needs tips from the algorithm of its program.

Task:


Imagine that you are engineers who develop and program an android. Make a few steps and think about “operations” that you body executes herewith.

Try to write a short algorithm for an android: what action it has to perform in order to pass a corridor, for example, or to sit down in front of a table. You can design the algorithm as a list of consecutive actions – commands for the android. Or you can use a tip and draw a flowchart of the algorithm.

 

Don’t forget to teach your android not to sit on push pins!

Computers
Android is not only humanoid robot but an operating system. What is an operating system? It is a program which allows using computer’s abilities or other similar technology or equipment.

There are various operating systems; everybody can choose them according to their liking and demands. One of such operating systems has got the name “Android”.

 

You may be familiar with this robot:

 

What for does it exist? Imagine that you have given several tasks to your computer or tablet. What should it do firstly? How to decide? Even a human would have their head spinning! Here where an operating system comes to help. It coordinates processes, determines priorities and sequence of performing the assignments. It will assign tasks and tell when they are due, just like a good chief of executive programs.

Android has “open code”, which means that different teams or independent programmers can write applications for it. This is how games for smartphones and tablets appear.

Just like the living being, operating systems grow, learn and improve. This is how Android “grow up”:

 

Task:


Conduct a small applied research. The next time you’ll have to deal with a gadget, based on Android OS, ask what version of it is installed there.

You can also give some assignment to few gadgets based on different version of Android and compare which one is the “fastest”. Don’t forget to write down you conclusions and discuss them with your classmates.

Intelligence/Emotions
Who is smarter – androids or humans? The android’s brain is a CPU with a program. Its complexity and abilities are programmed and designed by humans. Complicated computer programs are able to calculate moves ahead. This capability is tactics. And artificial intelligence in this aspect can be more talented than any human.

Still, people can work out a farsighted plan, discard unnecessary moves – create a strategy. And the computer (android) will consider all of the possible combinations. Thus, the advantages of a strategist are possessed by humans.

The human intelligence is capable of artwork. But is artificial intelligence of an android capable of art, too? At first glance – yes. A robot with a hand manipulator can draw a picture. But the basis of such picture will be the program; therefore, every line on the picture will be programmed by humans. The android itself will own neither fantasy nor creativity!

Androids can combine their efforts and create a rock-band. But the coordination of their programs will lie in the basis of it. Musical improvisation is possible only if it is fixed in the android’s program. Strictly speaking, in fact, it won’t be improvisation. But, nonetheless, music does exist:

Are robots able to cry, sympathize, rejoice? Do androids experience emotions? Android’s emotions are an external display of the program’s work. We can teach a robot to feel only by writing relevant commands in its program. Its face becomes sad not because a robot feels sad but because sensors start working, their signals are processed, and the command is given to those details which are responsible for face expression!

For example, Japanese scientists and engineers are working on the most emotional android in the world project. It is titanic work to teach it to show emotions. After all, we learn from experience, but android “learns” from the program’s commands, created especially for it.

Question:


What emotions, in your opinion, androids should be taught firstly?

Philosophy/Ethics

With the development of engineering and technology, the proliferation of robots in industry and household, people began to see something bigger than ordinary machines in them. And especially in androids, which are so similar to people themselves. This moment of robot’s and human’s coexistence has become a major theme in many works of literature and cinematography.

Fiction writers give androids ability not only to show emotions, but really feel them. And scientists have already faced a question – where does the line of similarity between humans and robots lie, which shouldn’t be crossed in the modern technology? That is why roboethics has appeared.

The problem of the relationship between people and robots has two sides:

 

The wider humanity uses artificial intelligence, the more ethical issues appear. Robots have certain responsibilities associated with their use. They should follow the rules, especially not to harm people in any way under any circumstances. But do people have the right to cause harm to robots?

If we consider an android or other robot exclusively as an object of property, it shall obey to the laws, governing property rights. We can manage our own thing, but we cannot do it with someone else's. You can break what belongs to you, but not to someone else. But can an intelligent robot be considered as property?

Androids are being improved, they become similar with us intellectually, they become “social”:

In Japan in 2015, a resident of Yokosuka was arrested for aggression toward robot Pepper. It happened in the office of mobile operator SoftBank. The unsatisfied customer threw the robot down and began to shoving it.

On the other hand, who should be responsible for harm that a robot may cause? The robot itself or its owner? British lawyers predict that with the course of time the question of granting civil rights to robots will appear.

Contemporary robots are not only the products of technology, but they also improve themselves and produce machines with artificial intelligence. In that case, who is the author of an invention: the owner or the robot itself?

The development of modern robotics poses new questions to society; and not only lawyers have to find answers to them, but every single person.

Sport
If an android is similar to human, and humans go in for sports, maybe there are some sports for androids? To some extent, yes. There are even the Olympic Games for androids which have been held since 2010.

Androids compete among themselves in various sporting disciplines from football to boxing. Androids are divided in three classes: completely independent, semi-independent, and ones that are controlled remotely.

Each class competes exclusively among themselves. The sizes of the participants fluctuate from 20cm to 50cm.

Robots show the best results in gymnastics, and the worst in boxing. However, some robots are created especially for wrestling competitions.

Dancing is also considered a sport discipline in the modern world. And robots are mastering this area quite successfully. They even compete among themselves:

Question:


What other kinds of sport activities robots could be engaged in?

Art/Literature/Cinematography

Which androids are the most famous? Because there are real stars among them! Let’s remember some of them.

1. In many of his books, Isaac Asimov has turned to robots and androids theme, to ethical problems, connected with them. For example, his collection of stories “I, Robot”. But you are, probably, more familiar with the screen character of his stories:

 

2. Robots-transformers – so familiar to you toys and cartoon or movies characters are also, in fact, androids!

 

But their history roots not in books or cinematography but in simple “unordinary” toys. The first series was created by Hasbro and TakaraTomy companies.

When they became popular animated series was filmed, and in 2007 the first Transformers movie came out, causing a new “transformers boom”.

3. George Lucas has made up his own androids – droids. These characters are known to everybody who has seen “Star Wars”. In these series there are a lot of robots and androids, and they are remarkably different:

Question:


What androids – the heroes of books, movies or cartoons – do you know? Imagine if you had a droid assistant, what would it be like? You can draw a “prototype” of your droid.

Accelerative and interactive methods
1. “Android” (Case-lesson “What is an android?”)

The essence of the game: Children divide into two groups. Every team “works” as engineers who develop and program the android. They have to try and write a short algorithm for the android (10 actions): what actions it has to perform to pass a corridor, for example, or to sit down in front of a table. They can design the algorithm as a sequence or consecutive actions – commands for the android. Or they can draw a flowchart of the algorithm.

Then the teams execute each-other’s algorithms in turns (it is possible to choose somebody to play the android). Each right action gives 1 point to the team. The team who gains more points wins.

SUBJECTIVE: To revitalize, mobilize children, “turn on” good mood and positive thinking.
Lesson summary:

Name

The contents

1

The results of the case-lesson can be complemented with findings of students

 

2

What three websites helped find important information?

3

To help student and couch:

4

Where can you get information for the case?

5

Location of the lesson:

The case-lesson takes place in the classroom.

6

Contest:

Teams of boys and girls.

The score of the competition between teams was:….

Tasks for them: Both teams chose a study area for preparation a small project “How I see android-assistant or “What occupations may the android have”. The project should contain the description of the android (in students’ perspective): what features and skills should it have, how should it communicate with others? The project can be supported by illustrations if the authors wish so.

7

Homework:

Conduct a mini-survey: Chose a cartoon or movie character (or even a toy), which, on your opinion, can be considered an android. Write a description for it and note what properties make this character the android. What special features have you noticed? What functions does this android perform, what for was it created?

8

Duration:

90 minutes (double lesson)

 

9

The possibility to conduct the lesson with a student-understudy:

possible

10

The acquired knowledge and developed competence:

Knowledge about the differences and similarities of robots and androids.

Understanding the principles of work of androids and technology that is realized in them.

Knowledge about ethical principles of robotics.

Knowledge in the sphere of operating systems on the example of OS Android.

11

Tags:

Robot, operating system, CPU, android, algorithm, emotions, roboethics

12

Authors:

 Hrabowska Larysa

13

Participated in the case upgrading:

 

 


The End

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