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  • Humans are now developing machines (robots) that imitate human emotion and thought. This Connected article explores the development of artificial intelligence (AI) from a social and ethical perspective, an issue that will have increasing relevance in students’ lives. It invites the reader to consider high-level questions about the future for this technology, such as:

    • What is emotional intelligence?
    • How do humans think?
    • What are the ethical implications of building AI that acts like humans?
    • What would happen if AI became more intelligent than us?
    • Should we preserve social contact?
    Rights: Crown Copyright 2018

    Connected article: Emotional robots

    An article in the 2018 level 4 Connected journal ‘Digital Space’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Photo courtesy of Soul Machines Limited, Pixel patterns by George Frost, Crown copyright.

    The article will help students to understand how technological developments could expand human possibilities and how technology draws on knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines.

    Teacher support material

    Check your school library for the article from the 2018 level 4 Connected journal ‘Digital Space’, download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown Copyright 2018

    2018 Connected Level 4: Digital Space

    The cover of the 2018 level 4 Connected journal ‘Digital Space’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles Emotional robots, Saving the world, one swipe at a time, Kiwis in space and Under the sea.

    Cover photo courtesy of Kieran Fanning/Rocket Lab.

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available). It has three learning activities, with extension ideas, that support the exploring technology aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum:

    • How smart is “smart” technology?
    • Machine learning
    • Artificial intelligence: past, present and future.

    Related content

    Futures thinking is used to explore how our society and environment may be shaped in the future, our Futures thinking toolkit supports students to develop future thinking capabilities.

    Try these discussion questions:

    • Who is better at driving a car: a human or a computer?
    • How will automation change our cities/our homes/work?
    • What will life look like when the robots arrive? Have they already arrived?
    • How will AI change the employment landscape? Will I still have a job?
    • What advantages do humans have over robots?
    • How will it change medical care?

    This article supports teachers in Teaching futures thinking.

    Read about the development of BabyX, a virtual animated baby.

    The article Artificial intelligence provides simple explanations and examples of AI, machine learning and more.

    This article contains a series of videos taken from a Bots vs Beings panel discussion. Experts discuss some of the implications of artificial intelligence (AI).

    ChatGPT uses AI to generate text. Professor Albert Bifet (Director of Te Ipu o te Mahara AI Institute at the University of Waikato) investigates what it is and some of the concerns around it.

    Explore other resources that the Science Learning Hub has in Super sense – an introduction to artificial sensors.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Useful links

    What is AI for Kids? An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence for Kids has simple explanations and examples.

    A research article, Developing students’ futures thinking in science education by Alister Jones, Cathy Buntting, Rose Hipkins, Anne McKim, Lindsey Conner and Kathy Saunders.

    Watch this recorded webinar Future of work – AI & machine learning from the Cambridge University's Digital Education Future Initiative (DEFI) .

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 9 June 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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