Robots at Work
Many students, even those who are quite young, are aware of the rapid pace at which technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are developing. This lesson entails an exploration of what the world might look like if all human jobs become automated, or done by robots. Are there jobs that humans can do that a robot will never be able to do?
The lesson begins by asking students a fairly straightforward question: If you could invent a robot to do something for you, what would you want your robot to do? Answers here may range from more specific tasks – e.g., “I would want a robot that could put away my laundry.” – to broader, or more involved ones – e.g., “I would want a robot that could go to school and learn then transfer its knowledge to me.”
Then, students can watch the short (<3 min.) video “The Last Job on Earth: Imagining a Fully Automated World,” linked below. The ensuing discussion can take one of two formats.
(1) Ask students to come up with a question that the video made them wonder about. Then, have students split into small groups, with each group selecting a question to present to the larger group. The class as a whole can then vote on which question to use to guide the large group discussion.
(2) Ask students whether this is a world that they would want to live in, and why.
- If you could invent a robot to do something for you, what would you want your robot to do?
- Would you want to live in a world that is fully automated? Why or why not?