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How To Prepare Your Child For The 21st Century Robotic Environment?

May 9, 2017

 

As most of our jobs are getting robotosized, experts say there is a need to rethink the education we are giving to our children.

 

An Oxford University study says, about 50 percent of our jobs in the US are at a high risk of computerization over the next two decades. For countries like India and China that number is as high as two-thirds.

 

Throughout history, the process of creative destruction, fol- lowing technological inventions, has created enormous wealth, but also undesired disruptions. And as workers struggle with the idea of loosing their jobs, parents and educators worry as to how to prepare their children for the next generation jobs. Cognitive tasks like arithmetic and reading are still highly automated, leaps are being made in tasks like writing as well. With the availablity of big data, non routine cognitive tasks are now easily programmable. With the advent of machine learning, machines are acquiring adaptability. However, all is not lost. Its going to be a long time before science discovers the complex workings of the trillions of neurons in the human brain and be able to automate the very tasks that make us humans. Its definitely not happening over the next two decades.

 

However, there is a serious rethink we need to do in the way education is imparted.

 

We need to teach skills to children which can not be replicated yet into artifical intelligence:

 

1) Social Intelligence: Human social intelligence is important in a wide range of work tasks, such as those involving negotiation, persuasion and care. To aid the computerisation of such tasks, active research is being undertaken within the fields of Affective Computing  and Social Robotics. While algorithms and robots can now reproduce some aspects of human social interaction, the real-time recognition of natural human emotion remains a challenging problem, and the ability to respond intelligently to such inputs is even more difficult. Even simplified versions of typical social tasks prove difficult for computers, as is the case in which social interaction is reduced to pure text.

 

There is much ‘common sense’ information possessed by humans, which is difficult to articulate, that would need to be provided to algorithms if they are to function in human social settings.

 

2) Creative Intelligence Tasks: Researchers are still trying to understand what are the psychological processes that underline the creative processes. Robots tend to solve problems that involve a methodological process way better than creative non-linear processes. Aaron, a drawing program, has shown progress in linear art and David Cope's EMI software has composed music similar to many composers, yet creative value is still hard to code. Values are variable and change across cultures and through time and encoding these values and creating a creative intelligent AI in  the process is not going to happen within the next two decades.

 

3) Emotional Intelligence: The 21st century jobs will rely on Emotional Intelligence, famously called as EQ rather than IQ.


Whether or not such skills can be taught is an open question. Still, some organisations are giving it a go. ING, the Dutch bank, has recently put 350 staff through an “EQ training programme”. The aim is to teach these bankers how to “build trust with the client through asking lots more questions and listening out for feelings and beliefs as opposed to just listening out for content,” explains Steve Ellis, director at Rogensi, a consultancy that developed the project with ING.

 

4) Adaptation:  Previously, you could start a career and reasonably expect to finish in that career. Even now that is much less true, and the rate of change is only going to increase. At the very least you will be expected to continually retrain and adapt to changes in working practices in your career, and there is a good chance you might have to find a completely new career. People who struggle to retrain and adapt will find this hard. If there's one thing we could usefully be teaching people now, it's how to continually learn and adapt over their careers, because if they can't adapt then they will struggle.

 

In the next article, we will delve into how mindfulness helps us bring these skills into our life and into our educational process. 

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