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Age of machines

From exploring the universe to picking up dog poo - what 11 year-olds say robots will be doing in 50 years' time

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 28, 2016 | Technology

What roles will robots have in 50 years’ time? The Girls’ Schools Association posed the question to year seven girls (age 11-12) in their schools around the UK and were inundated with imaginative responses and comment. 

Taking the place of or helping teachers in the classroom was a popular suggestion, as was helping out with household chores and domestic admin. But top of the list was performing a wide range of humanitarian, life-saving, medical and caring functions.

The top nine robot functions in 2066

  • Performing humanitarian, life-saving, medical & caring roles
  • Doing jobs outside the home eg driver, journalist, shop assistant
  • Doing household chores – including child care - and domestic admin
  • Replacing or helping teachers and doing your homework for you!
  • Exploring space and difficult terrain
  • Being soldiers, body guards, fire fighters and police
  • Entertaining us
  • Helping us become more eco-friendly
  • Running their own businesses and taking over the world

GSA president, Caroline Jordan, says: “Girls love seeing the practical application of science. Their science learning thrives on understanding how you can use it to help – or hinder – people and society. Questions like this are a great way to stimulate their thinking around philosophy, economics, design and moral issues as well as the science itself.”  

Many girls, however, are worried about the impact of robot technology on human health and fitness and others are concerned about the economic impact. 

Georgie, from St Francis College in Letchworth, puts it into perspective. She said: “In the 50s and 60s people thought that electronics would mean less work as they would do everything for us. But that was not the case. They became more work as checking social media or playing games became another thing to do. Therefore, I think that in 50 years, robots will be like housemaids but really they will be more work for us, for example, taking them to get fixed or programming them.” 

Celia from Bolton School Girls’ Division believes robots will be used to help medical procedures such as operations. Millie from Cobham Hall in Kent has heard family stories about earthquakes in China where her parents live. She says: “If the earthquake happened again, and my parents are still alive, they would be too old to run away. A robot could be super quick, run to my parents and they would hide inside.  The robot would become a ball to protect them. The robot needs to be very strong so it would not be broken and still be standing after the earthquake.”   

Nancy from Channing School (London) even thinks robots could step in where IVF fails. She says: “If a person could not have a child, they could create a robot which had their features and personalities. The human could choose what age they would like the artificial human (TAH) to be. If you don’t like the age your TAH is you could reverse or skip that period in their life. However, the robot will carry on growing through your life and, at the average death age, they will shut down forever. If you get annoyed with it you could turn it off. However it could not have its own children or else they may rebel and the human race could be wiped out in a matter of days, due to their extraordinary strength.”   

Other roles  

Students said that robots will also clear dog poo away. They’ll be shepherds, stunt doubles, cleaners, refuse collectors, fire fighters and bodyguards.

Talia from Channing School, London believes that robots will have replaced teachers in 50 years’ time. She says: “I think they will look like humans on the outside but are a piece of machinery on the inside. They will have built-in feelings for when a child is upset about something, they will also be good at telling off if needed! They will know the answer to EVERYTHING because they will have Google inside their heads. They will also have a very good fashion sense. All the children will look up to them because they will be so kind and friendly. I think they will also have a great sense of humour. Their voice will be tuned to a human voice and they won’t just smile with their mouth, they will also smile with their eyes.”

A robot that can do your homework for you was a popular choice. According to pupils from Withington Girls’ School in Manchester, it has eight arms with a pencil, ruler, pen, paper dispenser, light, calculator, bin and protractor.

Coco from Channing School, London, thinks advice columns will be taken over by robots and they’ll also be used as journalists. She said: “They will be able to ask questions that have been programmed into them, depending on which person they come across!”  

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