Robot-Proof, by Joseph E. Aoun outlines the history of, and the need for, changes in higher education due to ever continuing technological and computing advancements.

Many industries today are heavily supplemented by automation, technology and computing. These include, but are not limited to, marketing, journalism, banking, agriculture and logistics. And there is growing concern among workers that “Robots will steal our jobs”. While this well may be the case for some industries, particularly those that rely solely on the completion of repetitive tasks, historically it has been the case that when a job role is automated the automation process is designed to work with, and expand, an existing job role which ultimately creates a more efficient workplace. This is not to say that the all workers will continue to perform the same job role, no, workers will often be required to upskill in order to work with the new technology. This may mean that workers are required to undergo further training in order to remain employed, and workers may be required to upskill in new areas that previously did not exist before the more recent technological advancements.

In order to cater for the jobs of the future we are informed that people who are multi-skilled, empathetic and able to correlate ideas in a way that a computer cannot will be highly employable. These core skills are likely to be put into practice by using creative processes that only humans are currently capable of achieving.

At this point we should stress the importance of three literacies that are crucial to future proofing our workers – technological literacy, data literacy and human literacy.

Another key factor that is sets us aside from the average computer program “is that instead of pure numerical data inputs, we strengthen or weaken our mental connections through experience”. Our humanness is what will ultimately differentiate us from computers, machines and robots. Our ability to empathise, understand a situation in a human context and draw on human experience will hold us in good stead in the future.

It is worth noting that when it comes to machine learning, computers currently have a hard time interpreting context.

“Computers have a problem with interpreting contexts because they do not live in the chaos of the human worlds, even though they do straddle the digital and physical environments”

There are a number of cognitive capacities that continue to challenge us, and enable us to be better prepared for jobs of the future. These crucial elements include critical thinking, systems thinking, entrepreneurship and cultural agility. These methods are praised alongside the values of lifelong experiential learning while maintaining a growth mindset. If we are looking to build well rounded, robot-proof, learners we should incorporate these skills in our teaching practice.

“The growth mindset is essential to nurturing the cognitive capacities of critical thinking and systems thinking because both demand that students cast the nets of their minds on wide, and often unexplored, eaters. And it is the key to becoming the most robot-proof person of all – the self-directed, lifelong learner.”

We should not be scared of the changes that artificial intelligence, advanced computing and robotics bring to the future, but embrace the change and assist the learners in our charge to become lifelong learners who are able to adapt to the challenges that the future will bring.


By Miss Hughes, E-Learning Intergrator

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