Robot tutors: Welcome or ethically questionable?

Matthijs Smakman*, Elly A. Konijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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Robot tutors provide new opportunities for education. However, they also introduce moral challenges. This study reports a systematic literature review (N = 256) aimed at identifying the moral considerations related to robots in education. While our findings suggest that robot tutors hold great potential for improving education, there are multiple values of both (special needs) children and teachers that are impacted (positively and negatively) by its introduction. Positive values related to robot tutors are: psychological welfare and happiness, efficiency, freedom from bias and usability. However, there are also concerns that robot tutors may negatively impact these same values. Other concerns relate to the values of friendship and attachment, human contact, deception and trust, privacy, security, safety and accountability. All these values relate to children and teachers. The moral values of other stakeholder groups, such as parents, are overlooked in the existing literature. The results suggest that, while there is a potential for applying robot tutors in a morally justified way, there are imported stakeholder groups that need to be consulted to also take their moral values into consideration by implementing tutor robots in an educational setting.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobotics in Education
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Research and Innovations
EditorsM Merdan, W Lepuschitz, G Koppensteiner, R Balogh, D Obdržálek
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783030269456
ISBN (Print)9783030269449
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event10th International Conference on Robotics in Education, RiE 2019 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 10 Apr 201912 Apr 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357
ISSN (Electronic)2194-5365


Conference10th International Conference on Robotics in Education, RiE 2019


  • Child-robot interaction
  • Ethics
  • Moral values
  • Robot tutors
  • Robot-assisted (language) learning
  • Social robots


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