Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Last December in OEB Conference the audience faced a question of whether we would prefer a robot or a human to do an eye surgery. Majority of listeners, myself included, preferred a robot. Obviously the OEB conference attendees have already a digital mindset. Quoting Dr. András Szűcs , it is not the most efficient approach to preach about hell to those who go to church every Sunday. Still the fact that the same people who were vowing digital, were predicting the future of soft skills. Dr. Anja Wagner painted a future what we can’t even imagine yet, and at the same time in the showroom area different companies are providing their solutions for not existing problems. The thought that we haven’t yet been innovative enough continues to gnaw at me.
We are living an era of machine learning. They learn a lot quicker than humans and they never repeat the same mistake. Why would I trust the human doctor more than a machine using the big data? At the same time, despite of Ofstedt-reports declaring students’ academical success, I choose my kids’ school purely on intuition. To be honest with you, I couldn’t care less what is their future scores in A-levels as long as they cherish their love to learn, they find the useful and accurate most truthful information and they are able to apply it and most importantly – they are able to think out of the box. So if I’d prefer my doctor to be a machine or at least I’d trust more a doctor assisted by big data (and I am not referring to Dr. Google), why wouldn’t I trust my kids or myself to learn with a robot?
As long as I remember people have predicted certain jobs to be disappearing because of robots. Now we finally start to be in that stage. In many factories human work force is not needed anymore. At the same time the most courageous people are predicting even lawyers’ jobs to be replaced by robots and you can always test your own profession’s likelihood to get taken over by a robot here. Teachers are still predicted to be totally safe according to this page, whereas teacher assistants get 56% likelihood to be replaced. Well, no one can deny the fact that teachers’ skills and ability to make their students learn, vary a lot.
When students say they actually prefer the robot to the teacher, we start to have a hunch about the future. According to Professor John Hattie it was non-judgemental nature of interactions that made the students enjoy more. Let’s face it – one of our biggest fears is to get a stigma of stupid or slow learner and everyone knows how excruciating it feels if someone is using that power to judge you. If the doctor or the teacher is not listening or not encouraging – what is there really left that couldn’t be replaced by a good interactive software?
What if all the people, despite of their social, economical, ethnic, geographical background or gender would have the possibility to learn with the best teachers? What if everyone would have the possibility to learn in non-judgemental, encouraging and inspiring interaction? Would it give us a possibility to pay more attention to those skills that make us different from machines? Would it actually make us slightly better humans?