November 30, 2018

ABOVE AVERAGE IS OVER:

Why robots could replace teachers as soon as 2027 (Kristin Houser, 12/13/17, WEF)

Robots will replace teachers by 2027.

That's the bold claim that Anthony Seldon, a British education expert, made at the British Science Festival in September. [...]

In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan for eliminating poverty through sustainable development. One goal listed on the agenda is to ensure everyone in the world has equal access to a quality education. Specific targets include completely free primary and secondary education, access to updated education facilities, and instruction from qualified teachers.

Some nations will have a tougher time meeting these goals than others. As of 2014, roughly nine percent of primary school-aged children (ages 5 to 11) weren't in school, according to the same UNESCO report. For lower secondary school-aged children (ages 12 to 14), that percentage jumps to 16 percent. More than 70 percent of out-of-school children live in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the latter region, a majority of the schools aren't equipped with electricity or potable water, and depending on the grade level, between 26 and 56 percent of teachers aren't properly trained.

To meet UNESCO's target of equal access to quality education, the world needs a lot more qualified teachers. The organization reports that we must add 20.1 millionprimary and secondary school teachers to the workforce, while also finding replacements for the 48.6 million expected to leave in the next 13 years due to retirement, the end of a temporary contract, or the desire to pursue a different profession with better pay or better working conditions.

That's...a lot of teachers. So it's easy to see the appeal of using a robotic teacher to fill these gaps. Sure, it takes a lot of time and money to automate an entire profession. But after the initial development costs, administrators wouldn't need to worry about paying digital teachers. This saved money could then be used to pay for the needed updates to education facilities or other costs associated with providing all youth with a free education.

Digital teachers wouldn't need days off and would never be late for work. Administrators could upload any changes to curricula across an entire fleet of AI instructors, and the systems would never make mistakes. If programmed correctly, they also wouldn't show any biases toward students based on gender, race, socio-economic status, personality preference, or other consideration.

Posted by at November 30, 2018 4:03 AM

  

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