Teenager Buys $120 Robot To Do Her Homework, Inciting Online Debate About Whether She Cheated

A robot writes on a chalkboard.
Phonlamai Photo / Shutterstock

A Chinese teenager reportedly bought a robot that cost the equivalent of $120 to do her homework for her, according to The New York Times. The girl did this by getting a robot that can “write,” and she used it to complete tedious homework. In China, students are often burdened with the task of writing complex characters over and over in order to learn them. It appears that the girl digitized her handwriting and had the robot complete her work for her. Predictably, the girl finished her homework in record time. All seemed to go well for the girl. That is, until her mom found the machine while cleaning her room and promptly destroyed it.

The exact model of the robot is unnamed, but known robots that can “write” look like a square box with a black arm that holds a pen or pencil. For example, there’s a U.S. company called Bond that uses robots that can write in what looks like human handwriting. Some of these machines come with handwriting that’s already loaded onto the hardware, while others allow you to customize the handwriting.

News of the girl’s admittedly hi-tech way to avoid actually doing homework sparked a debate on social media. Some argued that she was cheating, while others sympathized with the girl.

“Give her a break. How meaningful is copying anyway?” a commenter said.

Unfortunately, since the girl’s plans to use the robot were foiled, we’ll never know if the robot’s handwriting would have fooled her teachers at school. In the age of modern age of constantly evolving technology, it won’t be long before many other types of robots become affordable, even for children.

Companies are already poised to take advantage of the potential robotics market for children. For example, the creator of Sophia the robot, Hanson Robotics, is marketing “Little Sophia” for 7- to 13-year-olds, noted The Inquisitr.

In addition, toy manufacturers are also looking into integrating artificial intelligence into their products. However, this raises questions that parents and even the government will likely have to grapple with sooner or later.

Tech Radar posed the question: “are AI toys ethical?” And aside from ethics, some are concerned about the potential security gaps. Since most AI toys connect to the internet, it can theoretically be hacked. The hacking could enable third parties to listen in on a child if it has microphone capabilities.

With all that being said, one thing is clear in the case of the Chinese girl trying to get a robot to do the hard work. Buying a robot is one matter, but hiding something like that from your mom is another.