Will robots take over from humans?
No, they will not, according to a fascinating BBC Radio 4 programme I heard last week. In How Do Our Kids Beat the Robots? Sathnam Sanghera explored the idea that technological developments are happening so fast that we cannot possibly teach students all they need to know to tackle the world they will be entering after school.
In his quest to answer the question, “So how do we make sure our children get the education they need to compete against machines that haven’t even been invented yet?” Sanghera interviewed a number of people. These included the co-founder of Fixperts, the Chief Executive of NESTA, the UK’s innovation foundation, Andreas Schleicher from the OECD and American educationalist Michelle Garcia Winner, who teaches social thinking, a skill no robot could ever manage. Sanghera also visited the fascinating XP School in Doncaster, U.K., which has totally reworked its curriculum and subjects in the light of such questions.
So what is the answer? Robots can never replace humans because humans want contact with other humans. Robots do not have social skills nor are they programmed to read human emotions effectively.
I was reminded of this the very next day in dealings on the phone regarding my bank account. Passed from one robot to another via a series of clicks on my phone, I eventually got through to a human and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Now we would get somewhere. In the bank the next day the clerk shared the same view and we all agreed that we prefer face-to-face communication over automation any day.
So where does V&V come into this? V&V is about community, about interaction with people. Encounter is a key tool of reflection: how we interact and how an encounter influences and can change the individuals involved. Listening is another cornerstone of V&V: listening, not only with your ears, but with your whole heart and and an open mind. Story is another key tool: sharing moments, histories and traditions has been, and still is, a core element in the handing down of culture and beliefs through the generations.
Robots may be efficient at doing jobs but they can never replace human contact and interactions. As Sanghera found, education needs to help young people to have people skills, which many, working on computers at school and jumping straight in to social media and video games when they get home, do not have. V&V does this which is why, more than ever before in its twenty-one-year history, it is needed today.
To listen to the programme, go to this link How do our kids beat the robots?