Your robot teacher of the future 未來的機器人老師

Will robots teach us in the future? One man believes they will, and they’ll be much more efficient than human teachers

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你能想像讓高效率的機器人教師指導你在區區六個月內讀完整個本科學位嗎?雖然聽上去有些不著邊際,但一位未來學家認為,這個猜想會變為現實。歡迎來到機器人老師的世界,和《隨身英語》一起探討未來教育和科技之間的緊密關係。

課文內容

Vocabulary: Work 詞彙: 工作

Will your job be done by a robot in the future? Bank of England economists predict that almost half of all UK jobs are under threat of automation. Those most at risk involve repetetive manual labour, such as factory positions. But could even the venerable profession of teaching soon have to compete against powerful electronic educators?

At first glance, teaching might seem impervious to replacement by robots. Teachers use a range of soft skills that machines find hard to replicate. They gauge pupils’ needs and tailor feedback accordingly. They adapt materials to make them more engaging and effective. And they provide pastoral care: looking out for students who lag behind or disrupt the class.

Nonetheless, some believe the future of education will be technological. In an interview with Business Insider magazine, futurist Thomas Frey predicts that “by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

He thinks that ‘bots’ – online robot teachers – will make education so efficient that students will be able to compress an entire undergraduate degree into six months of learning. A bot learns what your “idiosyncrasies” “interests” and “reference points” are, “and it figures out how to teach you in a faster and faster way over time,” according to Frey.

Whether or not such incredible speeds will be reached, over the last decade there has been a huge increase in online learning platforms. Companies such as Udemy and Khan Academy produce courses that allow millions to learn at home for free, at their own pace. But there are limitations. Without the face-to-face stimulation of a classroom environment, the overwhelming majority of students fail to complete online courses. How to sustain motivation to learn is one more skill that online teachers will need to master.

Indeed, Frey admits there is some way to go: “Nobody has quite cracked the code for the future of education.” What do teachers themselves think about this? Professor Donald Clark from Derby University in the UK thinks that we should embrace change, even though people will lose their jobs.

Artificial intelligence will destroy jobs – so why not use it for a social good such as learning?” he asked.

詞彙表

automation 自動化
at risk 面臨風險
manual labour 體力勞動
position 工作,職位
profession (需專業知識技能的)職業
impervious 不受影響的
soft skill 軟技能,如與人相處的能力和溝通能力等
to gauge 判斷(人的感受)
to tailor (根據需要)調整
feedback 反饋意見
to lag behind 落後
to compress 壓縮、縮短
idiosyncrasy 個人特徵、習性
overwhelming majority 壓倒性多數,絕大多數
to master 掌握
to crack (a) code 找到解決問題的辦法
to embrace change 積極接受改變
artificial intelligence 人工智慧

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What are some of the soft skills that teachers use? 

2. How do bots teach?

3. What has been one of the main failures of online courses so far?

4. Which verb means ‘to copy’?

5. True or false: Frey believes we have already developed powerful robot teachers.

2. 請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Marcus ______ French in just four months. He has such a talent with languages. 

compressed      mastered      gauged      tailored

2. You need to show your ______ as well as your knowledge and experience at job interviews. 

feedback      soft skills      profession      idiosyncrasies

3. Sue ______ her class when she was young, but worked hard and got into a good university.

lagged      mastered       lagged behind      fed back

4. Heavy smokers are ______ of lung cancer. 

risky      risk      at risk      risking

5. We have a number of ______ available at our company this month.

labours      professions      employments      positions

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. What are some of the soft skills that teachers use? 

Teachers gauge pupils’ needs, tailor feedback and provide pastoral care.

2. How do bots teach?

Bots learn your idiosyncrasies, interests and reference points, and use this information to figure out how to teach you as fast as possible, according to Frey.

3. What has been one of the main failures of online courses so far?

The majority of students fail to complete online courses because they struggle to maintain motivation without the face-to-face stimulation of a classroom environment.

4.Which verb means ‘to copy’?

To replicate.

5. True or false: Frey believes we have already developed powerful robot teachers.

False. He believes that nobody has “cracked the code” for the future of education yet, but is confident that we will.

2. 請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Marcus mastered French in just four months. He has such a talent with languages.

2. You need to show your soft skills as well as your knowledge and experience at job interviews.

3. Sue lagged behind her class when she was young, but worked hard and got into a good university.

4. Heavy smokers are at risk of lung cancer.

5. We have a number of positions available at our company this month.

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