Saturday, May 20, 2006

Guidelines For Robot Conduct to be Written

Japan's industry ministry plans to compile safety guidelines for next-generation robots that will be providing services in areas like nursing, security and cleaning, ministry officials said Saturday.

The guidelines will require manufacturers to install enough sensors to minimize the risk of the robots running into people and use soft and light materials so they do not cause harm if they do so, the officials said.

They will also be required to install emergency shut-off buttons, they said.

Calls have been mounting for safety guidelines on the next-generation robots as they may be used for various purposes because of possible labor shortage due to Japan's sharp population decline.

While safety guidelines are set under the Occupation Health and Safety Law for the current generation of robots, which are typically used on factory production lines, there is the opinion that different guidelines are necessary for the advanced models.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to complete the guidelines by the end of the year, the officials said.

The ministry will also consider establishing an independent organization to conduct safety tests on robots and legal systems to provide insurance in case of accidents.

Safety guidelines to be set for next-generation robots

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Girls Becoming Smarter Than Boys

From University of Florida:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Thirty years ago, boys, not girls, were the high performers in schools. Today, test scores, grades and dropout rates show boys are achieving at levels far below girls, and an international study that includes the University of Florida is yielding insights that may explain why.

In the United States, girls capture more academic honors, outscore boys in reading and writing, and score about as well on math at the fourth- , eighth- and 12th-grade levels on the National Assessment for Educational Progress exam. Internationally, fourth-grade girls significantly outperformed boys in the eight leading industrialized nations that took part in the 2001 Progress in International Literacy Study. And 15-year-old boys have been surpassed by 15-year-old girls among the 28 countries involved in the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment.

“Brain research has shown differences in male and female brains that can affect preferred learning styles and communication,” says Mary Ann Clark, UF associate professor of counselor education and principal investigator. “It has been suggested that public school curriculum may not be teaching ‘to the boys’ and that teaching styles are more suitable for girls.”

Clark says although the study is still in progress, one major issue already has become clear: the need for awareness of the special needs of students with regard to gender. Many “school success skills” such as compliance and organization seem to be more easily applied to girls, says Clark, adding that teachers, administrators, school counselors and even parents should be trained in strategies for providing a positive view of learning and studying that targets all students.

University of Florida News - UF study explores why boys are falling behind girls in school