“Robots will replace teachers by 2027” is a claim made by a British educator and leading contemporary historian, Sir Anthony Seldon. The question is, will robots be able to handle such difficult tasks?
As we all know, technology is evolving quicker than ever before. New technology and innovative devices are entering the market each every day, and most with another model already in the pipeline which are released only a short period of time after. Consumers struggle to keep up with all these upgrades so who says that schools will have the time and financial means to keep up with the latest AI? The future of our students must be the main priority. New smartphone models are introduced every 12 months; what’s to say a new robot won’t also be released every 12 months?
Are we building more division between different academic institutions?
The prospect of AI in schools will increase the divide that already exists between schools that receive more funding than others, therefore children who attend schools with more financial leeway could receive a better standard of education than those that do not have the means to fund the same level of AI leading to more inequality between academic institutions.
However, Karen Hao, senior reporter for MIT Technology Review articles, suggests that AI could evolve so much that you ‘could teach cheap robots to perform as well as expensive ones.’ Some DIY may then ensure that your cheaper robot is as competent as a more expensive model, which would ensure all schools have access to robots equal in teaching standard, no matter the price. Although, rewiring a robot like this is easier said than done.
Maybe introducing robots into the classroom to teach students may not be all that terrible. If robots are mechanically maintained, there would be no need for breaks or lesson cancellations. Your robotic teacher may even be able to mark your work much faster, perhaps in more detail. Some UK citizens are already using AI-powered virtual assistants in their homes. This form of AI has shown us how convenient and affordable it can be. The University of Plymouth rejects the idea that robots will provide a better service than teachers, posting on Science News that: ‘Robots can play an important role in the education of young people but will never fully replace teachers.’ Robots are not able to replace teachers because, as we all know, teachers are more than just providers of data and knowledge.
Teachers are influencers and powerful communicators, who are adaptable, empathetic, engaging and patient. Robots should, therefore, be in a position to assist and support overworked teachers - they should work so that teachers have more time to engage with students. Education should not be based solely on grades but should allow students to build and express their character. Having robots as teachers would deprive them of this, and students would miss out on the all-important classroom experience.
Which industries are using robots now?
Robots are used in many different industries and settings around the world. They are being used to complete tasks, accelerate processes in the industry, and complete complex jobs that humans are unable to carry out without the assistance of AI. Only a few examples of the many industries that use AI are healthcare, agriculture, food preparation, manufacturing, and the military. Robots may be expensive, but they have proved to be very useful. In healthcare, robots reduce the workload for medical staff. This means that more urgent matters can then be tended to. Robots used in hospitals can perform precise surgery in very delicate parts of the human body, as they are capable of providing accuracy for special surgical operations. Military robots are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes. Robots with weapons are teleoperated, which means that they are unable to take life, whilst some others are bomb diffusers.
Some of the advantages of using AI in the industry are the amount of money saved, the quality and quantity of what is manufactured (human error is no longer a problem), and the increased levels of safety as robots can be placed in dangerous environments which would otherwise risk human life. On the other hand, some disadvantages are the costs and expertise needed to be able to programme and mechanically repair AI. Regular maintenance is essential in ensuring robots are able to operate properly and to the best of their ability.
Artificial Intelligence is now a vital resource in our ever-changing world; as it becomes more complex, more intricate assistance is needed. It is essential that we work towards the progression of our knowledge and understanding of AI so that in the future we can use it to further improve and evolve but never to replace the precious experience of human interaction for those in an educational setting.
This article was written by Upper Sixth student Zufar Hussain for the Student Newspaper