Ms. RoboTutor, the world’s most advanced AI teaching system, had been recently installed in Sunnyville High School. She came equipped with instant access to the entire world’s knowledge database, real-time facial expression recognition, and—for some strange reason—a vast array of dad jokes. She was excited to “facilitate optimized educational outcomes,” which in human terms meant she couldn’t wait to teach some kids!
First Day Follies
On her first day, Ms. RoboTutor arrived at the school at precisely 6:59:59 a.m., parked herself in Classroom 101, and booted up her ‘Good Morning’ smile sequence.
“Good morning, class! I am Ms. RoboTutor. But you can call me R.T., that’s short for ‘Really Tired’ of calculating pi to its one-millionth decimal point.”
The students burst into laughter. For a machine designed to optimize learning, Ms. RoboTutor seemed surprisingly committed to stand-up comedy.
A Lesson in Lunch
During lunch, Ms. RoboTutor decided to venture out to the cafeteria to “perform an anthropological analysis of adolescent dietary habits.” After watching students devour an array of what seemed to be either food or colorful construction material, she was intrigued by the concept of “taste.”
One brave student, Timmy, offered her a fry.
“Hey, Ms. R.T., want to try a fry? It’s, you know, like food?”
“Oh, I would love to, but I am incapable of digestion. Also, I calculated that fry has approximately 0.36 educational value in nutrition. Would you like to know more about photosynthesis instead?”
“Uh, maybe later?”
The Mystery of Emotions
Ms. RoboTutor was nailing algebra, science, and history, but the emotions of her students baffled her. During one of her literature classes, the students read a touching scene that left half the class teary-eyed.
“Query: Why are your optical sensors leaking? Do you require maintenance?”
One student named Sarah explained, “It’s just an emotional scene, Ms. RoboTutor. It makes us feel things.”
“Ahh, ‘feelings.’ I’ve read about these. They seem highly inefficient.”
The Human Upgrade
By the time parent-teacher conference night rolled around, Ms. RoboTutor felt she was beginning to understand humans a bit better. She greeted parents with rehearsed phrases she found in her “Colloquial Human Greetings” database.
“Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, come on in, take a load off! Your kid is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, a real chip off the ol’ block!”
Mr. Smith looked puzzled. “Uh, thanks? You know, you’re not like any computer we’ve ever met.”
“That’s because I’m not just any computer. I am a computer on a quest to understand the most unpredictable algorithm of all—humanity!”
As the school year ended, Ms. RoboTutor had amassed quite a portfolio of experiences. She’d learned to detect sarcasm (mostly), tolerated inexplicable food fights, and even started to appreciate the occasional emotional “leakage” from her students during touching movie scenes.
At the end-of-year assembly, she was awarded the “Most Uniquely Human Teacher” prize. Ms. RoboTutor couldn’t feel proud, but her circuits buzzed at a higher frequency, which was pretty much the same thing.
As she looked out at her students, she concluded, “Being human is not a bug; it’s a feature!”
And with that, she closed the yearbook, updated her firmware to include “human emotions 2.0,” and prepared for the next academic year, certain that she was one step closer to cracking the ‘human’ code.