The Future of Teaching? Asimov's Three Laws and the Hypothetical Robot Teacher

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Whether we like it or not, there is no denying that technology’s
contribution to teaching and learning practice has grown exponentially in
recent weeks. The screen has become the classroom; the teacher (and the
students) an apparition. Nevertheless, despite the barriers of distance and
screen, there remains something distinctly human about these
What if the teacher on the screen – and, indeed, in the classroom – was
not human? Remotely controlled robotic teachers have been trialled in
China with positive feedback from students; yet, teaching remains a
profession that has been deemed at low risk of automation.
This paper will consider Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics as a
foundational base for predicting the behaviour of a potential, autonomous,
robot teacher. I will then compare these predictions with those behaviours
necessarily undertaken in the practice of teaching, via the presentation of
three hypothetical scenarios, to determine whether the robot could carry
them out; asking, in effect, if a robot can do teaching. Any speculative
answer to this question should inspire further discourse on the concept of
teacher, what difference (if any) lies between doing and being,
Period15 May 2021
Event titleEducation, Technology & Culture in Crisis: Secondary & Higher Education in a Time of Virtual Instruction
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational