Will a robot take my job? | Inquirer Opinion

Will a robot take my job?

/ 04:20 AM March 13, 2023

There is a website called willrobotstakemyjob.com, which tells you how likely your job will be replaced by a robot in the future. The results are calculated based on a 2013 study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne to assess which professions could be rendered obsolete by automation.

I remember trying out the site with my team in 2017 and feeling a sense of relief when we found out that teachers are only facing a 9-percent risk. Unfortunately, a 2019 study by McKinsey Global Institute was less optimistic. It estimated that 28 percent (or 336,000 of 1.2 million employees) in the Philippine education sector alone would be negatively affected. The research predicted that a total of 18.2 million jobs in the country could be eventually automated, with agriculture, retail, and manufacturing industries topping the list.


Given the large-scale job displacement that could possibly occur, what does it mean then for educators like myself, whose role is to ensure that students are well-equipped for the future of work? This is a daunting question to ask — and the conversation almost always revolves around the lack of access that schools have to connectivity and resources. However, if we consider the rapid pace at which technology is advancing, the developments that we need to prepare students for have yet to be invented. More than focusing on existing technology, we need to strengthen the way we teach students how to think, and how to learn on their own.

1. Schools need to teach critical thinking and metacognitive skills more explicitly. To thrive in an ever-changing world, one must be able to constantly re-skill and upskill. Teachers must then shift to methodologies that train students to be active learners, rather than passive recipients of information.


In Mano Amiga, the nonprofit school I run, what we have found effective is implementing project-based learning (PBL). The class chooses a question or a problem that the students would like to investigate. For three months, they work in groups to research, design, and test possible solutions. Instead of just grading the final output, the teacher provides the students with coaching and feedback on how they can improve their approach.

One of my favorite PBL projects was when a group of fifth-grade students decided to assess the school’s electricity consumption. They presented such an insightful resource efficiency plan that we ended up implementing several changes based on their recommendations. In PBL, students not only become adept at linking classroom concepts to solving real-world problems, they also develop a palpable sense of pride in their work and strong ownership of their learning journey.

2. Educators need to collaborate closely with the private sector to understand the constantly evolving landscape. Since workplaces are at the forefront of keeping their employees’ skills relevant to rapid digitization, they are a crucial resource for learning about emerging technologies. Companies can help develop up-to-date curricula and embed the necessary competencies. Work immersion programs are also important opportunities for students to have firsthand experience of how technology is being applied in various fields.

3. School leaders must build a strong learning culture among their faculty and staff. Teachers have always tried to impress upon students the importance of lifelong learning. Perhaps, we need to be reminded to pursue it ourselves. There is still a tendency to discuss technology from a place of fear—fear of not being able to learn its complex language or fear of the unknown risks it would bring. School leaders need to facilitate peer-to-peer coaching, wherein younger digital natives could freely exchange best practices with their older colleagues. Teachers must be given a supportive space to experiment with how they can maximize these tools to elevate the way students learn inside, and beyond the classroom.

In the spirit of proactively trying new technology, I asked ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot, if AI will eventually replace newspaper columnists. This was its response:

“Opinion writing requires a deep understanding of human emotions, cultural context, and social dynamics, which are difficult to replicate with machines. Therefore, while AI technology may assist columnists with research and analysis, it’s unlikely to fully replace the role of human columnists.”

The future looks brighter already.

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TAGS: artificial intelligence, automation, robots, Undercurrent
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