What do you want to be? If you’re like me, you must have been asked this hundreds of times when you were growing up.
But for real estate billionaire Jeff Greene, the question is redundant. According to Fortune, Greene believes ‘the burgeoning use of artificial intelligence (also known as machine learning) is already costing people jobs. And things are only going to get worse.’
‘Artificial intelligence, software, computers, and robots are taking over the workplace, and what will happen more and more is the American worker is going to be marginalized,’ Greene said. ‘The American worker is going to be producing a product which has no value.’
Technology taking our jobs isn’t a new idea. It dates back to the industrial revolution.
But the truth, as you know, turned out quite differently. Sure, some jobs did become redundant. Less dependence on horses, for example, meant fewer jobs for stable hands. But far from decimating the labour force, the technology introduced during the industrial revolution actually created more jobs than it displaced.
Not to mention the tremendous increases in production. From around 1750 to 1830, the textile industry increased its output by a factor of 40. Improving steam power engines made trains faster and more efficient. Iron production increased 15-fold.
Along with the increased productivity, the demand for machine operators, builders, engineers and train drivers increased.
I believe we’re looking at a similar story today.
Inviting technology into our lives won’t leave us jobless. Quite the opposite. There will always be jobs, but the nature of these jobs will change.
To be prepared for the new jobs of tomorrow means changing the way we approach education. And what better way to adapt than through technology. I’m not talking about more computers in classrooms. But that might not be a bad idea either.
I’m talking about sophisticated software and robotics playing a key role in the education of future generations.
A market ripe for disruption
Back in grade school, I was ‘taught to remember’. You know. Study these facts and figures and then regurgitate them for the test. You can see problem with this. Memorising the answers to a test won’t help you in the real world.
These days, Western schools encourage students to understand material, not just memorise it. Yet they still have difficulty keeping their kids ahead of the curve of the rapid changes in technology. The challenge now is to keep students up to date on changing demands in the workforce.
According to Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson [STO:ERIC-B], more commonly known as Ericsson,
‘Today if you complete a computer science degree, what you learned in your first year of study is obsolete by year 3.’
How will we combat this problem? The solution is technology. It will catapult us forward, changing our whole educational system for future generations to flourish.
We will gain new skills and knowledge from artificial intelligence (AI) tutors.
No more memorising facts for tests. Students will learn how to think laterally. They’ll be innovators.
That will make the next generation more employable and valuable.
Jeff Greene is right. Technology is infiltrating the workplace. But it won’t destroy the labour force. Instead I believe it will lead to more productivity and a more capable population.
Classrooms have already somewhat changed to stay relevant with progressing technology. Schools now post assignments and tests online. It familiarises kids with computers and other devices. Online collaborative group projects give kids a taste of working life. More computer and technology-based subjects are on school curriculums.
As time goes on, we won’t be teaching kids to learn how to be more valuable in the workplace. We’ll be teaching them to be innovators and entrepreneurs.
Technology can automate grading and streamline school curriculums. It could also provide every child with a personal tutor. It’s difficult for individual teachers to make time for each student in a class of 25.
AI software could help solve this problem. Students would no longer need more attention for a single, overworked teacher. Their personal AI tutor would help keep them up to date. Students could work at their own pace and still achieve milestones and targets. AI systems can give students immediate feedback. It could teach students in a way to best suit them.
Teachers could review data analysed by AI tutors. And if a student isn’t performing well, teachers can step in and provide hands-on, human experience.
Personal tutor software already exists to some extent. It assists kids in basic classes, like mathematics or writing.
We are still in the early stages of personal AI tutors. But imagine a world where every child has access to personalised education. It may not happen tomorrow…or next year. But, make no mistake: AI is set to disrupt the educational system.
Barbara Kurshan, executive director of Academic Innovation, writes:
‘Our world as we know it is running on artificial intelligence… However, almost none of the recent advancements in artificial intelligence have advanced the education industry.’
Player appearing but still a long-term view
While many companies are investing in AI, there are very few doing it for educational purposes. One of the biggest names in tech, Bill Gates, is hoping to change that. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than US$120 million into developing fields known as ‘personalised learning’.
Private companies mostly lead funding for ‘personalised learning’. The idea is to develop software that creates individual lesson plans. Thus they can be tailored to an individual student’s performance. The software also coaches students through trouble spots until they have mastered the subject at hand.
Teachers still play a central role in the classroom. They become less of a lecturer and more of a one-on-one coach. While start-ups are all over this space, big names have started to take notice too.
In 2014, Google launched Classroom to help teachers improve communication and stay organised. It lets teachers post class announcements, assign work to students, in addition to collecting and grading assignments.
Even Facebook Inc. [NASDAQ:FB] is making its way into the education space. Last year, FB announced their partnership with Summit Public Schools. The aim is to create personalised learning software and make it freely available.
A timeline on AI tutors is hard to predict. ‘It’s still early stages,’ Gates said about personal learning. ‘In five years, 10 years from now, will it be highly penetrated? That’s not absolutely clear.’
AI has the potential to make significant changes to any field. It will be the heart behind self-driving cars, and the go-between for humans and technology. Soon, we will be talking about AI as the most important human collaborative tool ever created. It’s what AI can do for our own development that’s exciting. Not only is AI faster and more efficient, it will elevate human capabilities to new heights.
Junior Analyst, Money Morning
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Autonomous vehicles, automated construction and enhanced memory are just some of the technologies we could all be using in just a few years’ time.
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