The Bots are Coming! Better Re-think My Lesson Plans

S.H_Horikawa_–_Star_Strider_Robot_Close_Up

Here’s a suggestion for your back-to-school faculty meeting – take 15 minutes to watch Humans Need Not Apply by CGP Grey. Then have a discussion on it’s implications for your students and (your curriculum). Talking about robot invasions is way more fun than updates on new state tests.

The video’s thesis is simple – robots are coming for our jobs. Actually, they have already taken many of them. And it’s not just low-skilled labor they’re taking over.

… white-collar work is no safe haven either. If your job is sitting in front of a screen and typing and clicking — like maybe you’re supposed to be doing right now — the bots are coming for you too, buddy.

I’ll bet that accurately filling out a worksheet won’t be a valued bot-competitive skill.

Are the professions safe from bots? Not exactly. The video makes the case for bots replacing significant aspects of legal, medical and even creative work. (And I’d add teachers to that list.)

It begs the question – what skills should we be teaching to students who will have to compete against the bots for employment? I don’t think there are any easy answers to that question. But I’ll bet that accurately filling out a worksheet won’t be a valued bot-competitive skill.

As the video concludes:

We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different.

Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay.

And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own. …

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

For full text of the video click here.

Image credit: S.H Horikawa – Star Strider Robot
By D J Shin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “The Bots are Coming! Better Re-think My Lesson Plans

  1. Reply
    Tim Lauer - August 17, 2014

    I saw this earlier today and added it to my opening meeting agenda. Should lead to an interesting discussion… 🙂

    1. Reply
      Peter Pappas - August 17, 2014

      That should stir the pot.

    2. Reply
      Peter Pappas - August 18, 2014

      Here’s two interesting articles from the NY Times with a related theme Seeking New Start, Finding Steep Cost “Millions of Americans have trained for new careers through the $3.1 billion Workforce Investment Act, but many have not found the promised new career and are instead faced with thousands of dollars of debt.”

      In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty | Workers are their own bosses in the so-called sharing economy, but that flexibility also brings much uncertainty – and few of the protections of full-time work.

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