The robot take-over: Reflections on the meaning of automated education

Heitor Coelho


With education technology pointing to an ever-increasing automation of educational activities, a few enthusiasts go so far as to predict the replacement of teachers by robots. The present paper intends to take such declarations as a provocation, encouraging us to question our understanding of educational practices. That this possibility is even considered says much about how we understand education and effectively educate, greatly instigating our inquiries about that which is ever the subject of education, i.e., the human being. To follow this line of questioning, the exposition will proceed thus: there will firstly be a rough outline of what is a “robot”, and what, if anything, distinguishes it from any other machine, beginning with the origin of the word, in fiction, and with considerations on machinery and automation relying on a few of Karl Marx’s insights. Following that, a few attempts to define real-life robots and robot-like machinery used in Information and Communication Technology will be seen, leading to a brief foray on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Finally, the last part will have recourse to Hannah Arendt’s theory of action in an effort to reflect on the meaning of the hopes for and attempts at an automated education.


Edtech; Robot; Automation; Karl Marx; Hannah Arendt

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Copyright (c) 2019 Heitor Coelho


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