Just thirty years ago the frontier was a school with a computer. Today, the frontier is having students with their own laptops. According to the futurologist Thomas Frey, in the next 14 years the frontier will be having students learning from robot teachers on the internet, and the company that will be able to provide this service will become one of the largest, richest and most important in the world.
Frey's prediction is certainly made by taking into account the latest macroscopic advances in artificial intelligence research. Robot teachers will be the fruit of what is being studied today: Google is developing DeepMind, a software capable of bringing self-learning to excellence. IBM works on robots based on its Watson system. Amazon is at the forefront of drone distribution research.
Lots of searches in separate fields. No one has yet put together the traces and set the course for the future of education.
The scenario could be an advanced version of what the online teaching system is today, with one difference: the teachers we will see on video will not be in the flesh. More likely it will be bots, advanced enough to be able to customize each teaching plan to the needs of the student in front of them.
According to Frey, this mode will allow students to learn at a vastly faster rate than they have in a classroom where they have to “compete” with 30 colleagues to get the attention of a single teacher. “By optimizing time,” predicts the futurologist, “learning will be ten times faster. The equivalent of a higher education course could be completed in just one year ”.
“A bot teacher learns your inclinations, the things you don't tolerate, your interests, your weaknesses, your strengths. And find the best way to make you learn well and faster ”.
Google's DeepMind learned how to play “Breakout”, the legendary Atari game. Not only did he learn the rules in a short time, but within 30 minutes he began to score stratospheric scores, all with almost no human support. The "teaching machines" could have similar mechanisms: robot teachers would learn the characteristics of each student and use their algorithms to modify the lessons according to individual needs.
What will become of the traditional teachers?
Here comes the romantic and human part: I do not think that by 2030 such a system will supplant our professors, already struggling with a very strong (and unjust) contraction of their role, forced to deal with obsolete programs and antiquated methods. . On the other hand, learning is a process that is also based on the “human” comparison with a reference model: it is not just notions that need to be learned. The charisma, the critical sense, even the way of reacting to knowledge are factors that require the complexity and density of human beings.
Let's put it this way: there will be no robot teachers in high school, but it is quite likely that we will take private lessons online to fill our school gaps, and we will do it with non-human teachers.
Gianluca Riccio, born in 1975, is the creative director of an advertising agency, copywriter and journalist. He is affiliated with Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists. Since 2006 he directs Futuroprossimo.it, the Italian resource of Futurology.
Futuroprossimo.it is an Italian resource of futurology opened since 2006: every day news about the near future. Scientific discoveries, medical research, prototypes, concepts and predictions about the future for free.
Gianluca Riccio, copywriter and journalist - Born in 1975, he is the creative director of an advertising agency, he is affiliated with the Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists.