The senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank speaks about new robot-teachers


According to futurist Thomas Frey, the largest internet company in 2030 will not be Apple, Google, or Amazon. Instead, it will be an “education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank.

Thomas Frey predicts that, within 14 years, learning from robots will be entirely commonplace — even for children.

His vision for 2030 includes an enhanced version of today’s existing online courses. Only, the instructors will not be humans beamed through videos. The robots are going to deliver online lessons to those who prefer online education over standard schooling. Robots will be smart enough to give tailored lessons based on each child demands.

Frey suspects this kind of efficiency will allow students to learn at much faster rates than if they had to compete with 19 other students. Students will breeze through their material at four or 10 times more speed by completing an undergraduate education in less than half a year.

His words are based on the example of Google’s DeepMind, which teaches how to learn to play the Atari video game “Breakout.” Not only did it quickly pick up on the rules, but within a half hour it figured out a way to achieve incredibly high scores — all with little human input.

However, Frey doesn’t go so far as to argue education robots will replace traditional schooling outright. He sees them more as a supplement, perhaps as a kind of tutor.

Still, there is a long way to go to achieve the highest result. Robots have not mastered language yet. Their social interaction has not developed and still limited too.

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