How will teachers' unions respond to robot teachers?
Many Americans seem upset that jobs are being "outsourced" overseas. Others are upset with Mexicans who immigrate, legally or otherwise, and are taking "American jobs." Both groups are worried about cheap labor "taking our jobs."
Surprisingly, however, no one today seems worried about the arguably greater threat of robots. After all, robots don't require sleep, food or smoke breaks, and they don't even earn a salary.
Actually, to date, robots have considerably improved the lives of almost everyone. Yes, robots have displaced workers on a lot of jobs, but goods made robotically are generally of superior quality and considerably cheaper, benefiting consumers. Even workers can reap the benefits, since those who remain in the increasingly roboticized factories earn higher wages from their increased productivity.
Now, out of Japan, comes the world's first robotic teacher. Saya, as the robot is known, has very limited capabilities. Currently she can only call roll, yell at students when they make too much noise, and lecture directly from the book-making her already as capable as many of America's worst teachers.
Watch out, teacher union bosses—robots are coming to take the jobs of your dues-paying members!
Judgment Day—when we can effectively determine if robots will be effective teachers—may still be many years away. But we can be certain that teacher unions will work hard to keep robots from becoming certified. After all, certification requirements are there largely to keep out many qualified individuals and have the unintended consequence of excluding minorities.