'Extraordinarily inspirational' robots will replace teachers in 10 years, leading UK academic says

Teachers could soon be replaced by robots, according to Sir Anthony SeldonFred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

Robots are likely to begin replacing teachers in the classroom in 10 years to completely transform the education system, a leading UK university vice chancellor has predicted.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice chancellor of the University of Buckingham and former Master of Wellington College, predicts that the technological revolution that will sweep the sector in the next few years will see teachers remain in the classroom to set up equipment and maintain discipline.

However, the actual education will be carried out by artificial intelligence, Seldon said during a talk at the British Science Festival in Brighton last week.

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"It certainly will change human life as we know it. It will open up the possibility of an Eton or Wellington education for all. Everyone can have the very best teacher and it's completely personalised; the software you're working with will be with you throughout your education journey.

"It can move at the speed of the learner. This is beyond anything that we've seen in the industrial revolution or since with any other new technology."

Sheldon will further delve into this subject in his upcoming book titled The Fourth Education Revolution, which is set to be published in early 2018.

While the first revolution involved learning the basics of survival such as hunting, growing crops and building shelter, the second focused on the organised sharing of knowledge. The third revolution, he explained, began with the invention of printing.

The fourth revolution will then see children guided through the learning process by artificial intelligence and will progress at their own pace.

"The technology's already beginning to arrive," he continued. "It's already there on the west coast of the US and it's already beginning to transform schools. I'm expecting this to happen in the next 10 years."

However, he noted that the "great danger" of robots taking jobs away from human workers still remains a key issue.

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"For humans beings, much of our fulfilment in life comes from the satisfaction of work," he said. "If we get the technology wrong, it will end up doing everything for us in the same way that satnavs mean we no longer know how to read maps."

When asked if was suggesting that machines will eventually replace the role of a teacher, he replied, "I'm desperately sad about this but I'm afraid I am."

Seldon said these automated teaching machines will also be "extraordinarily inspirational."

"You'll still have the humans there walking around during school time, but in fact the inspiration in terms of intellectual excitement will come from the lighting-up of the brain which the machines will be superbly well-geared for," he said.

"The machines will know what it is that most excites you and gives you a natural level of challenge that is not too hard or too easy, but just right for you."

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