ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE could replace “rubbish” teachers in the classroom, according to a leading technology expert.
Chris Van Der Kuyl, an entrepreneur at the forefront of Scotland’s compute gaming industry, claims that sub-standard teachers may lose their jobs to technology in the near future.
He made the provocative statement during his closing keynote speech at last week’s Scottish Learning Festival, where he likened poor teachers to a “bad piece” of AI.
But Van Der Kuyl, chairman of games development firm 4J Studios, still believes there is room for “phenomenal” teachers in the classrooms of the future.
The entrepreneur, whose firm helped develop the massive hit Minecraft, said: “Do I believe that AI will absolutely replace phenomenal teachers? Not at all.
“It will probably replace pretty rubbish teachers, but I think they act like a bad piece of AI at the moment and regurgitate the same old crap year after year.
“We’re living in an age where you’re experiencing the fastest change [in technology] you’ve ever experienced in your life.
“Things are changing today faster than they ever have in anyone’s lifetime – and it’ll be the slowest pace of change you’ll ever experience again.”
He also railed against banning smartphones in classrooms, saying: “That’s absolutely mental. That’s like saying, you can’t take a notebook to school – they’re banned because you could write really seditious and crazy remarks.”
He went on to bemoan the standard of computer science in schools and the narrow focus on teaching children certain programmes.
“Teaching pupils how to use Word, Excel and Powerpoint is never going to prepare them to create visionary products – to dream that they can change the world,” he said.
“All it does is turn them into good consumers of those products [made by] people who have got that imagination.”
He acknowledged that phones could be disruptive and that there should be rules around their use, but equated wholesale bans to Luddism – a philosophy opposing forms of modern technology.
He added that it made no sense to marginalise the computing power in pupils’ pockets when it was “infinitely more powerful” than the technology that put Neil Armstrong on the moon.
“We don’t have the luxury of taking things hundreds of years to change anymore, they change ridiculously quickly,” he said.
“Everything we know today, we’d better get ready to throw away pretty soon.
“Communications technology and digital media are undoubtedly changing everything we know about the world around us.
“In that, we have the choice of effectively consigning Scotland to being a great place to come to, a place of tartan, shortbread, whisky and golf.
“But that’s not good enough. because if that’s all we become in the 21st century then I don’t want to be here.
“If we’re serious about becoming a leader in the knowledge economy and a leader in technology, then it’s got to start with our education system – and it’s got to be radical change.”