The race between humans and robots as teachers (part 1: intro)

The race between humans and robots as teachers

Professor Li Yining, one of China's most noted economists and government advisors, often tells his students an adaptation of the famous Aesop story about the turtle and the hare. The original story tells about a race between both animals. Halfway the race the hare took a nap because he was way ahead of the turtle and thought he would win anyway. His overestimation of himself cost him the race because he fell asleep. The turtle was able to catch up with the hare and won the race. Yining always asks his students: "Do you think they only hold one race?"

The hare wanted a rematch after he lost. He learned from his mistakes and the second time he didn't fool around. So the second time the hare won. This time the turtle wanted a rematch and they decided to hold the third race. The hare agreed, but the turtle said: "The last two races you chose the route, this time I will decide how we run." "Fine", the hare thought. The third race the hare again took the lead. But just before the finish there was a river. The hare couldn't swim, but the turtle could. That's why the turtle won the third race. They talked about holding the fourth race, but decided not to do so. They decided to work together. They were a good team. The hare carried the turtle over land. The turtle took the hare on his back when crossing the river.

The moral of the story is the cooperation between both animals created a win-win situation. The turtle is now able to travel faster over land and the hare is able to cross the river.

The future of teachers

The adaptation of the famous Aesop story serves as an analogy about the race between humans and robots in the workforce. Robots are transforming every industry. Many people around the world are concerned about what the future holds for them concerning work. For example, in a 2018 survey, more than 70% of Americans said they are concerned about a future where robots are performing many tasks humans are currently doing.

People who fear to lose their current jobs have a valid point. Even though industry leaders and scientists disagree about what Artificial Intelligence is capable of doing and how much it's going to change the role of humans in society the next few decades, we cannot ignore the fact robots are changing the way we work and how machines influence the job market.

The teacher in cartoon series The Jetsons.
The teacher in cartoon series The Jetsons.


Education is also one of those fields where people ask themselves what the future holds for them. A question that is sometimes heard: is it possible to replace teachers with robots? An intriguing question, because teachers not only help with learning new domain skills, they also help with the social and emotional development of kids. Would it be possible to create a robot to outperform human teachers on every task they do? Let's investigate and take a deeper look into robots as teachers.

In this series of articles, we will explore the future of robots in education. We will look at how a robot teacher actually needs to look like to reach and even surpass the level of a teacher. We will argue that a cooperation between both teachers and robots - just like with the story of the hare and the turtle - will be most beneficial for the best learning experience for humans. We will reflect and look at challenges like privacy with collecting a vast amount of data about learning. Finally, we will talk about the future and where we believe education is heading in both chess and other domains.

Make sure to also read part 2 of this series of articles.

Rick Lahaye Written by Rick Lahaye
Rick Lahaye is the founder of ChessAnalytics. A company using Artificial Intelligence and learning analytics to create personalized training programs in chess. He is the author of Pushing Boundaries, a book based on scientific research about what 19 Olympic gold medal winners and world champions do to push their limits and reach the top.