Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

My first thought on reading the title was to ask, "why would you think this?" The answer pretty much everyone in the field will offer, of course, is that "some things just can’t be automated." But where is the evidence for this? This sentiment is based on an outdated view of artificial intelligencem and automation, one that is based on rules and symbolic processing. But modern deep AI systems are much more nuanced and perceptive. When people like Andre Perry say "computers aren’t capable of the higher-order thinking that teachers can provide," the evidence seems to run counter to that. And when Ian O'Byrne appeals to empathy, saying "a true teacher does not just impart facts; she or he creates a thirst for knowledge and teaches students how to quench that thirst," why would he assume that (say) mirror neurons won't activate just as readily for machines as for people, imprinting on them? There may be many reasons to desire human teachers, but the argument that "machines can't replace teachers" is not one of them.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Mar 31, 2021 01:56 a.m.