Let’s be clear. Robots are not gunning for our jobs. But they will very soon be gunning for the jobs that many of our parents and grandparents did.
While tech companies continue to protest that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies won’t take away human jobs in the near future, the very obvious reality is that they will.
In 15 years’ time, by the early 2030s, even the most conservative predictions foresee that most tasks that are repetitive, monotonous or easily-automated will be done by AI and robots.
We are on the precipice of what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This new era will be defined by AI, automation, ubiquitous connectivity, mobile supercomputing, smart cities and self-driving cars. Medical science will be revolutionised by neuro-technological brain enhancements and genetic editing.
Preparing for massive societal upheavals
This revolution brings with it exciting possibilities, new solutions to global challenges, and employment opportunities for jobs that have yet to be invented.
“These changes are coming, and we need to tell the truth and the whole truth,” argues tech entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and president of the Sinovation Ventures Artificial Intelligence Institute.
“We need to find the jobs that AI can’t do and train people to do them. We need to reinvent education. Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs. No matter what anyone tells you, we’re not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way.”
Alongside exponential population growth and climate change, the growth of AI is going to fundamentally transform the world over the next decade, particularly, as Lee argues, because “it will soon be obvious that half our tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI”.
“This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it,” Lee adds, ominously.
Reinventing Education for Industry 4.0
The truth is that AI is going to displace millions of jobs over the next ten to twenty years, which is exactly why education and edtech have to be focused on preparing pupils and students to do those jobs that AI cannot do.
Exciting possibilities are opening up for those young people entering the job market who are both highly technical and capable of creative problem solving, social communication and emotion-centred interactions. Which is also why the humanities and the liberal arts are going to be even more important in defining the future of AI.
“Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions,” write Microsoft president Brad Smith and executive vice president of AI and research Harry Shum, in their new book The Future Computed.
A radical new educational philosophy
Automation demands a radical new educational philosophy. One in which from school through to university and then throughout our careers we are continually learning how to creatively use and best adapt to the latest technological developments.
“Education needs to change: our esteemed institutions are churning out many graduates with impractical degrees,” writes celebrated British inventor James Dyson, whose company has recently built its own university to cope with the woeful engineering talent shortages in the UK right now.
“65 per cent of children entering primary school today will end up working in roles that don’t yet exist. Yet education is increasingly an expensive choice with uncertain outcomes. Understandably, students are beginning to question the value of education.”
At pi-top we are committed to designing learning experiences that foster creative, collaborative thinking. Our approach is to encourage learners to work together to solve interesting real-world challenges and to empower them to gain the skills they need to thrive in life.
If you’d like to find out more about how ‘learning by making’ with pi-top can help you, your students and your school, get in touch here.