Will your job be done by a robot in thefuture? Bank of England economists predict that almost half of all UK jobs areunder threat of automation. Those most at risk involve repetetive manuallabour, such as factory positions. But could even the venerable profession ofteaching soon have to compete against powerful electronic educators?
At first glance, teaching might seemimpervious to replacement by robots. Teachers use a range of soft skills thatmachines find hard to replicate. They gauge pupils' needs and tailor feedbackaccordingly. They adapt materials to make them more engaging and effective. Andthey provide pastoral care: looking out for students who lag behind or disruptthe class.
Nonetheless, some believe the future ofeducation will be technological. In an interview with Business Insidermagazine, futurist Thomas Frey predicts that "by 2030 the largest companyon the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven't heardof yet."
He thinks that 'bots' – online robotteachers – will make education so efficient that students will be able tocompress an entire undergraduate degree into six months of learning. A botlearns what your "idiosyncrasies" "interests" and"reference points" are, "and it figures out how to teach you ina faster and faster way over time," according to Frey.
Whether or not such incredible speeds willbe reached, over the last decade there has been a huge increase in onlinelearning platforms. Companies such as Udemy and Khan Academy produce coursesthat allow millions to learn at home for free, at their own pace. But there arelimitations. Without the face-to-face stimulation of a classroom environment,the overwhelming majority of students fail to complete online courses. How tosustain motivation to learn is one more skill that online teachers will need tomaster.
Indeed, Frey admits there is some way togo: "Nobody has quite cracked the code for the future of education."What do teachers themselves think about this? Professor Donald Clark from DerbyUniversity in the UK thinks that we should embrace change, even though peoplewill lose their jobs.
"Artificial intelligence will destroyjobs - so why not use it for a social good such as learning?" he asked.
at risk 面临风险
manual labour 体力劳动
soft skill 软技能，如与人相处的能力和沟通能力等
to gauge 判断（人的感受）
to tailor （根据需要）调整
to lag behind 落后
to compress 压缩、缩短
overwhelming majority 压倒性多数，绝大多数
to master 掌握
to crack (a) code 找到解决问题的办法
to embrace change 积极接受改变
artificial intelligence 人工智能