Here is an insert from an article which I read in Sunday’s newspaper. It shows the likelihood of jobs being replaced by robots in the near future. I noticed that elementary school teaching was listed near the bottom. Now I emphasized elementary because I believe the advent of robotization certainly does apply to secondary and college teaching. Upper level teachers are already being replaced by a robot called the Internet. I hear ads over and over about “On Line Degrees” from a plethora of colleges and universities. A single Internet course can serve dozens if not hundreds of student and be operated by just a few individual “professors”.
With the current budget crisis in most every state, how long will it be before this same approach filters down into secondary education? And what about primary education – that might take a bit longer but if a meaningful segment of the public can be convinced that home schooling with the help of on line instruction can provide a substantial primary education; then it too will become robotized.
Another question becomes – what happens once robots assume an overwhelming presence in the American job market? I have recently read that robots can work at lower cost than the cheapest overseas labor. They never take a sick day; they never go on break, no vacations, no pensions and no morale problems (and no unions)! Some will say – yes but we will always need people to make the robots. Sorry – they can make themselves! Yes but we will always need people to fix the robots. Sorry again – they fix themselves! We will always need people to program the robots. Sorry once more – once they are programmed the job is done and quite possibly they will be able to reprogram themselves when necessary (A.I.)!
The response to these points by many is “Great! That means people will have more leisure time and won’t have to work nearly as much”. We will all be able to reap the rewards of robotization. Not so fast – the people who will be working less and enjoying all the extra leisure time will not own the robots – they will be owned by wealthy corporations and individuals and I don’t believe they would be inclined to share the rewards the robots provide them with the society at large.
Well then who is going to pay all the part time workers and unemployed a full time salary? The government which is by enlarged controlled by the wealthy? I am sure it will have no interest in making up the income lost by the unemployed and partly employed “leeches” who have been replaced by robots.
So now the robot age will have another startling, back door effect on education. If only a very few jobs will be left by robotization what kind of jobs will they be and what skills can be taught to allow people to obtain those remaining jobs?
Additionally, if large numbers or workers are replaced by robots, what happens to the middle class and how will they be able to pay the taxes necessary to support the schools in the first place?
In summary it seems that an uncertain road lies ahead with respect to the rise of technology as it is related to the American and World economies. Even more disturbingly, I hear few if any politicians and leaders remarking on this topic much less suggesting solutions.