There are a few certainties in this world: death, taxes, and that our jobs will eventually be taken by robots.
However, some professions are under greater threat than others. Accountants should probably worry. But doctors and teachers will be fine, surely?
Even the most sophisticated algorithm can』t capture the nuanced set of skills these professions require – compassion, common sense and emotional intelligence?
「Extraordinarily inspirational」 robots would begin taking on the work of teachers over the next ten years.
It will open up the possibility of an Eton-style education for all.
Everyone can have the very best teacher and it"s completely personalised. The software you"re working with will be with you throughout your educational journey.
The impact would be beyond anything that we"ve seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology.
Teachers and robots will work together. Teachers』 roles will become more pastoral, less focused on the repetitive tasks of imparting information, testing and marking.
If we don』t plan for the oncoming AI revolution then there is a risk, that because of the massive shortage of teachers, that it will be seen to be an economically viable alternative to use artificially intelligent systems to do a significant amount of work that teachers do.
When we think of artificially intelligent teachers, we tend to picture a human-like physical robot standing at the front of the class.
Such technologies are among those being developed, particularly for very young children.
Pepper and Nao, two humanoid robots made by Japanese company SoftBank Robotics, were trialled in two Singapore pre-schools last year with encouraging results.
Pepper was able to question children about a story they had just heard, for example, offering multiple-choice answers for them to select on a screen.
The first AI technology to be adopted by schools in the UK will be more similar to a chatbot application, or a virtual assistant such as Amazon』s Alexa that can recognise and respond to speech.
Where AI really excels is in teaching Stem subjects such as maths and science. These tend to have a clear right answer, unlike subjects such as English where topics are open to different interpretations.
Will a robot ever be able to teach literature?
It is possible now to capture a lot of data about people』s interactions with technology, but also as they』re wandering around in the world, so data about social media, about their physical wellbeing, about brain function.
That can be processed using AI algorithms to find out a lot more about that person』s emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, even cognitive wellbeing.And some of that could be used to engage students in some of those more subjective areas.
AI』s potential goes beyond just basic maths and science.
It will transform Stem. In science, it will liberate young people to take part in experiments way beyond anything that we can do at the moment.
Social sciences will follow five to ten years later,and the arts and humanities ten to 15 years later, because there is learning which can be related by algorithms in the arts.
Young people will be able to look at a scene from Macbeth in three dimensions, see holograms of actors performing in the middle of the class.
Machines will be able to ask probing questions of students to test their understanding of what"s happening, and their responses, using voice recognition.」
Teachers will become much more the overall organisers, the explainers, and ultimate evaluators of progress.
A lot of the heavy lifting of the primary work of teaching will take place on a one-to-one instructional basis, between the individual and the machine.
Experience from the US, where some of this technology is being developed, is that covering basic material on a computer using AI takes up around 30 percent of a student』s day.
That leaves 70 percent of the time for teaching staff to organise discussions, activities, one-to-one sessions with students.
Artificial intelligence could also help with an increasingly worrying problem facing schools: students』 mental health.
A recent government-funded study found as many as one in four teenage girls now suffer from depression by the age of 14.
We could be building systems to help people understand themselves better – to see the signals of problems coming their way in terms of their mental wellbeing and flag them up to somebody who can help them before it gets too bad.
But of course, there are huge ethical concerns surrounding the collection of such sensitive data, particularly about children.
Could the shift to learning from machines also harm the very human connection that exists between a teacher and a student?
As teachers have something to gain or lose from a child』s success or failure they are motivated to push them academically – can a robot ever have the same effect?
Probably the real emotional empathy will be in the relationship with the teacher.