Like many things to do with social robotics, statements like these might seem as if they're treading on the edge of the Uncanny Valley. After all, Minnie doesn't really have emotions or thoughts—just pre-programmed responses. But the study findings could have broader implications for that burgeoning field by pointing to a place where having a robot around could actually be helpful: specific activities. A social robot doesn't have to be smart at doing everything to be helpful—and as anyone who's ever argued with Siri can attest to, "smart" is a high bar. It just has to be good at doing one thing: in this case, reading. Its authors, educational psychologist Joseph Michaelis and computer scientist Bilge Mutlu, say the key to Minnie's success with even reluctant readers lays in its ability to join in on an activity, providing a social component similar to a study buddy—or even a private teacher.