Arsenio’s ESL Podcast | Season 5 Episode 65 | Reading | Robotics Forum

Welcome back to reading! So, in order to have success on any exam that involves cross-test multiple-matching activities, you need to identify the different writers’ opinions about specific points, and recognize whether the writers share a similar opinion or giving opposing opinions.

Here’s the reading followed by the questions at the bottom!

Getting Back to My Roots – A

As a young man, I was lucky enough to get an internship at a robotics research and development center. The researchers gave me their wholehearted support as I took my first steps in AI. From then on, I haven’t looked back. Next month I’m joining up with a US team and collaborating on language software that will allow a robot to respond more naturally to questions. But getting that first break wasn’t purely down to good fortunate — before that I was at home, working out how to build effective electric circuits, and figuring out how to code. I’d say to anyone considering a career in robotics engineering that if you start from scratch, you’ll get the grounding you need. Thinking outside the box is then what moves you forward as an innovator. But apart from technical know-how, the other thing that young engineers should have is a set of principles. You must pose yourself the question: ‘How am I going to design something that is of benefit to others?’ and ‘What impact on society is it likely to have?’ Only then can you really be motivated to pursue it. I am curious about the robots that are now already dealing with public enquiries in a particular bank. There have been teething troubles; the robots have not always been able to analyze facial expression correctly, and so have sometimes responded inappropriately, but this will all be resolved as we move forward.

C1 Gateway

Can Robots Help with Human Problems? – B

Humans have always had the capacity to innovate; this is what sets us apart from other animals and has allowed us to evolve. But now our drive for innovation threatens our own security. Indeed we are on the verge of creating a future in which humans will have ever-decreasing value. Robotic engineering and artificial intelligence are developing at such a pace that people are not given the time to voice doubt or call into question the supposed benefits of automation. One concern is the impact of employment: robots will soon jeopardize millions of jobs worldwide, surely a catastrophe for social stability. I understand the desire to continually improve on existing technology, but the goal of any engineer should be to enhance human existence; and the effect of their actions on individuals and at societal level must take precedence over technical progress. However, there are those in the field determined to create machines they can pass off as humans. There is no justification for this. Humans have innate qualities that a machine will never replicate. I hold the view that there is something profoundly disturbing yet also futile about attempting to recreate the human essence.

The Future of Robotics – C

Robotics engineering is not a career for the incurious. That an early interest in the basics such as programming and electronics is vital goes without saying. None of this is wasted when moving onto a robotics engineering program, however many years later. Vision is also imperative if we are to open up to the range of potential applications they might have. Then we must develop a market for them. If we don’t manage to do that, it is pointless having a conversation about ethics. For example, in today’s society, it is typical for both parents to work hard, and to do long hours. We are soon going to have a situation where finding childcare becomes near impossible. The time will therefore come when robots will take over certain parental duties; perhaps the collection of children form school or helping with housework. Still, in order to convince people to accept robots, they should look as human as possible. The more they resemble humans, the easier it will be for people to overcome their irrational fears. I agree with the notion that through interactions with robots, we can better understand ourselves. As AI moves forward, we will see that all humans have qualities in common, and start to think about what it truly means to be human: in terms of our desires, our dreams and our own consciousness.

The Pros and Cons of AI – D

I was recently invited to meet a humanoid robot, and of course, I accepted. I knew it was going to be an amazing encounter. What I had not expected was how disconcerting the experience turned out to be. Its eyes followed my every move, and the uncannily humanlike changes in its facial expression almost had me forgetting the fact was silicone. Its verbal responses to my questioning were slightly off at times, but it managed to keep the conversation going. The lead engineer on this innovative project explained how the next generation of machines could be put to use not only in factories, but also in our homes and offices. The leader was somewhat more reticent when it came to answering my concerns about the inevitable loss of jobs. There is also the issue of whether something with advanced artificial intelligence should be created for the purpose of servitude. At what point is a robot entitled to rights? And who will be legally responsible if a machine malfunctions, say a driverless car, and causes physical injury to people or property? A conference on such issues takes place next year. Certainly they require attention before further development takes place.


Read the article. For questions 1-4, choose fomr the four headings.

Which heading:

  • Shares A’s opinion on how people should set out to become robotics engineers?
  • Has a different opinion from C on the attempt to make robots more humanlike?
  • Shares B’s opinion on how to the development of robots might affect human workers?
  • Has a different view from the others on the priority of ethical considerations in engineering?

For questions 5-8, decide which of the extracts above contains the following information.

  • A reason why humans lack the opportunity to challenge developments in robotics.
  • A prediction about a particular role robots may take on in the future.
  • A reference to a particular problem that arose with a group of robots.
  • An explanation for the expert’s uncomfortable feelings in the presence of a robot.


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