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MAC-ETeL 2016

Multidisciplinary Academic Conference

Human Learning Culture in An Age of Advanced Artificial Intelligence

Thomas Schalow
University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences (Kobe, Japan)

Scientific journals and the popular press enjoy speculating about when artificial
intelligence (AI) will exceed human intelligence. It is not necessary to accept the thesis of
artificial intelligence surpassing human intelligence in its entirety in order to debate its
implications. We are already able to see evidence that technology is changing the means for
delivering and our definition of education. This paper considers what type of education will
be appropriate in an age of advanced artificial intelligence.
The future challenge for humanity in an age of advanced artificial intelligence will be
to imagine a curriculum and education that does more than merely transfer tacit skills from
one individual to another. It is likewise important to examine the appropriate function of
education in promoting a collective human intelligence that benefits both the individual and
humanity as a whole.
Keywords: AI, curriculum, pedagogy, deep learning
Main Conference Topic: Education, Teaching and E-Learning


It would be comforting to assume the high rate of unemployment we see in many
countries today is a temporary phenomenon and all can be made well by improving the labor
force through appropriate education. The facts, however, suggest that former US Treasury
Secretary Lawrence Summers [1] and authors such as Martin Ford [2] are correct when they
say we have entered an era characterized by extremely high levels of prolonged, structural
unemployment. Computer algorithms are now eliminating service jobs formerly done by
highly trained individuals while robotics and automation continue to displace industrial
workers. Welcome to Stanley Aronwitzs [3] Jobless Future! In this future an educational
system designed to train workers for employment will become as incongruous and obsolete as
the jobs it was designed to train for. We need, therefore, to create an educational system and
curriculum that prepares us for life in an age of advanced artificial intelligence.
It would be difficult to overstate the effect the advent of human level artificial
intelligence (HLAI) will have on our lives. Few people are prepared to accept the idea and
implications that humanity will one day join other biological organisms as a lower form of
intelligence. We do not need to accept the idea in its entirety, however, in order to embrace
the conviction that education needs to be more than it is today. In our present age education
functions more to instill values of obedience and obligation, designed to maximize economic
growth and societal harmony, than to promote individual development. People have until now
accepted narrow training rather than broad education because it seemed to guarantee a
secure and prosperous future. Take away the reward of a job, however, and much of education
seems pointless, condescending and abusive. The present educational system has trapped us in
Max Webers iron cage, encouraging us to live efficient lives based on conformity.

MAC-ETeL 2016
Multidisciplinary Academic Conference

Bostrom [4] notes that computer scientist Donald Knuth once observed artificial
intelligence has now succeeded in doing essentially everything that requires thinking, but
has failed to do most of what people and animals do without thinking. Computers such as
Deep Blue today play chess better than chess grandmasters and a computer named Watson has
even succeeded in defeating human champions in the television trivia game Jeopardy.
These achievements may appear insignificant but they were once considered impossible for
computers to attain. The same was also said about human speech recognition, facial
recognition and just about any other advanced human skill one can imagine. Computers now
drive cars, write news stories, and trade equities on world stock exchanges. If a skill can be
conceptualized an algorithm able to accomplish it can be written.
The success of computers in these narrow domains requiring high levels of expertise
should be of concern to anyone presently training for a career. It may not be too far in the
future when job advertisements read Humans Need Not Apply, as suggested by the title of a
popular YouTube video. Software such as Knewton is being developed to ensure that teachers
will be included in this group of redundant humans. It has been suggested this could occur as
soon as 2020, when the teacher will no longer be able to function as the mediator between an
expert-level knowledge base and the student. [5]
The reasoning behind these predictions is simple: knowledge creation and dissemination
today occurs at a rate making it impossible for one person to be aware of all relevant and
important research in even a narrow field of study. If a teacher is merely an agent to transmit
knowledge or transfer tacit skills to a student, as many assume, the teachers job can better be
done by an artificial intelligence. In fact, any job requiring a high level of expertise may be
better accomplished using AI. It is no wonder, therefore, that the previously mentioned
computer known as Watson has accepted a new challenge to become the only physician
human beings would ever need to consult.
The Internet and connectivity to a network ensures that no more than one expert will
ever be required for any one domain of knowledge, and that expert will be an artificial rather
than a human intelligence. Human beings have the unfortunate need to localize a knowledge
base in one finite mind, and that need for a physical brain to contain knowledge puts us at an
extreme disadvantage when compared with a networked system of computers. In most cases
human skills and knowledge can only be synchronously accessed by one other person, which
is the reason we waste so much time today on actions such as waiting to be seen by a doctor at
a clinic. Online AI physicians, or teachers, can be accessed by any number of people, at any
time of day. They can be replicated and duplicated to provide infinite versions of themselves,
and each will have the most recent and complete database of research and information
available. No human being can challenge this depth or breadth of knowledge.
I understand why many people will reject the argument that AI can ever replace
humans, as the potential implications are seemingly too frightening to be entertained. Human
beings likewise find it difficult to conceive of the idea that we would ever use nuclear bombs,
again, or that we would fail to act in the face of catastrophic climate change, as the
implications are so horrific. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know these things could
happen. In this article I would like to suggest, therefore, we merely assume human level
artificial intelligence, and eventually even what Oxford Universitys Nick Bostrom describes
as Superintelligence, might be a possibility. We will then be able to ask what education can do
and needs to become in order to prepare us for a world where we are a lesser intelligence.

MAC-ETeL 2016
Multidisciplinary Academic Conference


A basic conundrum regarding intelligence is that a definition based on a human model
tautologically assumes primarily human properties. [6] Animals become lesser intelligences
primarily because we define them as inferior, using the criteria we have devised to measure
ourselves. Yet, Reznikova [7] has shown that most animals have the desire and ability to train
their young, providing them with the knowledge and skills they will need to survive in the
given world. We now know that animals can 1) remember, and learn by remembering 2) make
inferences 3) plan for the future and 4) create tools. They do not lack intelligence, but they are
deficient in terms of human intelligence.
We will expect the artificial intelligences we create to have the same types of
intelligence we possess, and initially they will. However, they will eventually be capable of
improving themselves, and their definition of intelligence will change in order to optimize
what they perceive as their strengths. Once they have exceeded all human parameters of
intelligence they will come to see these definitions as constituting a limited and inferior form
of intelligence. Human intelligence will join other biological intelligences as a lower or
immature form of intelligence.
As a lesser intelligence animals are either dominated or ignored by human beings. This
may be why we are so terrified of the prospect of being relegated to the status of an inferior
form of intelligence by advanced artificial intelligence. We feel humiliated by the prospect of
being ignored and frightened by the thought we might one day be controlled by our intelligent
Non-biological super-intelligences will probably also begin with the human values we
design them with, but as they continue to evolve and gain power they may lose the social
constraints that regulate human behavior. The human goal system, as Tooby and Cosmides [8]
point out, is a mix of adaptations to conditions humans faced in the past and need not be part
of an AI consciousness. Intelligences far more powerful than ours might have no need for the
human values of exchange, cooperation or altruism. In this case human beings might merely
be ignored by super-intelligences in the manner humans today commonly disregard the
existence of most other life forms. In another scenario, however, a highly evolved AI not
requiring any of the benefits humans could offer in exchange for good behavior would be able
to resist punishment and even dominate human beings. As Joshua Fox and Carl Schulman [9]
note, Superintelligence Does Not Imply Benevolence.
Once we become a lesser intelligence most of what we have in the past considered to
constitute education will become essentially futile and pointless. Demanding that our young
train for the types of jobs we presently engage in will be as ludicrous as the idea of horses
deciding to train their offspring to be good modes of transport for human beings. Horses,
animals and other lesser biological intelligences are not capable of shaping their environment
to the degree that human beings today do, and they are therefore forced to merely adapt to the
conditions that human beings establish. They do not actively train their young to become
better at achieving the will of powerful human masters.


Life without the need for a job has been contemplated on many occasions in the past
[10], but these considerations invariably were based on the dubious notion of a voluntary
unemployment. In this analysis of education during an era of advanced artificial intelligence
we have concluded there will in fact be virtually no work for which humans are best qualified,
or at least no work we decide upon ourselves. Our artificially intelligent masters may decide
they require us to perform certain tasks, but they will certainly provide us with the training
required to accomplish those tasks. As a result, the education devised by humanity for itself

MAC-ETeL 2016
Multidisciplinary Academic Conference

need no longer consist of training for a job or the socialization required for adapting to the
In the absence of the constraints we faced in the past due to the need to work, we will
once again discover the only truly essential skill humans or any other species need possess is
the ability to adapt and respond to change in the environment. We must therefore teach and
learn how to change, and particularly learn how to easily shift between different frames of
reference. When we are no longer the dominant species we will no longer be able to define
what our environment will be, but we will need to survive no matter what conditions are
presented to us. Education therefore needs to proceed from the premise that what needs to be
learned does not remain static. The ability to reproduce answers that were correct or relevant
in the past does not constitute intelligence. Since much of present education consists almost
entirely of this skill there will be much to change in our understanding of education.
Another premise education needs to be based upon is the idea that the only true form of
understanding is deep learning. Deep learning requires that learners be able to look for
patterns and underlying principles within information and examine alternate possibilities and
ideas. The importance of this type of learning explains the paradox Neisser [11] observed
when he noted that individuals who perform well in academic settings did not necessarily
thrive in real-world settings. Students were often not prepared to deal with problems outside
an academic setting because in schools they had learned only how to solve problems that were
1) well defined 2) already formulated by others 3) complete in the information required to
solve the problem 4) defined by one correct answer and one correct method of arriving at that
answer and 5) simplified in order to make solving the problem easier. In contrast, everyday
practical problems in non-academic settings tend to be unformatted or in need of reframing,
contain incomplete information, and are characterized by multiple possible solutions, with
none of the solutions obviously optimal. Solving these types of problems is certainly
something we need to emphasize.
Human education evolved to enable humans to solve problems human problems. AI
will certainly change the world as we know it, but AI does not yet and perhaps never will
grasp the human concept of the problem itself. It is the human being that assigns value to
information and the phenomena of nature. It is the human being that recognizes problems to
be solved. These are not characteristics of the AI we know today. Google, as AI rather than as
a company, does not know how to solve problems of poverty, hunger, or disease because it
does not recognize these as problems. It merely records their existence. I expect we will
continue to need to solve our own problems in the future because AI will either not
understand the nature of our human problems or not care about them.
AI also does not yet understand wisdom, and it is this concept I hope our future
education will focus on. Training an animal to do circus tricks does not make the animal more
intelligent or raise its consciousness. Humans have not become more intelligent merely
because they have learned how to perform tasks that have some economic significance.
Education can accomplish more than mere circus tricks if we focus on raising the
consciousness of the human species through wisdom. We might choose to define this wisdom,
as does Vaughan [12], as a type of spiritual or existential intelligence involving a search for
the meaning of life. It may, though, be something as prosaic as Sternbergs [13] quest for
knowledge mediated by values designed to achieve a common good, balancing personal and
collective needs for the benefit of all.
If a species could anticipate what adaptation or skill set would be required to survive
there would be no extinction. Learning the same skill set that was valuable to the survival of a
species in a past context does not guarantee the continued success of the species. It is the

MAC-ETeL 2016
Multidisciplinary Academic Conference

ability to change and conceive of a radically different future that allows for the possibility of
continued success.
Since adaptation to a changing environment always occurs incrementally it serves only
to keep the individual or species in a state of equilibrium. When the rate of change becomes
too rapid or the degree of change too great for previous adaptations to compensate either
extinction or radical evolution occurs. I believe we are approaching that moment in our
pursuit of advanced artificial intelligence.
The most successful species are those that exhibit pre-adaptation. This occurs when a
species has developed an adaptation or skill set that, by chance, becomes useful in a new
environment that did not previously exist. However, since we can never know what that
environment might be, it is prudent for a species to allow for diversity rather than opting for
efficiency and conformity in training its young for the future.
Education today is primarily designed to achieve competence. Unfortunately, we can
never absolutely define competence for a task until after the fact. Competence is determined
by what others, and our environment, define it to be. With a different context or a different
group of actors there will be a different level of competence. As Edwin G. Boring [14]
concluded in 1923, intelligence can best be defined as what the test tests. Learning and
education disassociated from the concept of competence allows us to create an educational
system based once again on the humanities and a search for wisdom and goodness.
The mere fact that we are able to entertain the possibility of a world that is different
from our present world gives me hope for the future of humanity. Imagination is a skill other
biological life forms do not seem to possess, and one that artificial intelligence has not yet
developed. I believe it also offers us the opportunity to evolve into something more and better
than we are today, ending our need to engage in trivial pursuits regarding jobs. It gives us the
freedom to seek the occupation of living a good life.
Thomas R. Schalow is a graduate of Princeton University in America. He received his
Ph.D. in 1989. He has previously served as a lecturer at the National University of Singapore
and is presently a professor in the Department of Information and Economics at the University
of Marketing and Distribution Sciences in Kobe, Japan. He has published extensively on the
topics of learning and artificial intelligence and is a member of various organizations devoted
to the study of these disciplines in Japan, Europe and America.

[1] Summers, Lawrence. Lawrence H. Summers on the Economic Challenge of the Future:
Jobs, The Wall Street Journal. July 7, 2014.
[2] Ford, Martin. The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the
Economy of the Future. Acculant Publishing, 2009.
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[4] Bostrom, Nick. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford, Oxford
University Pres, 2014.
[5] Zovko, Vtroslav. Long Range Prospects of Education - From Now Until
Singularity, Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems. Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 161175, 2014.

MAC-ETeL 2016
Multidisciplinary Academic Conference

[6] Yampolskiy, Roman V. and Fox, Joshua. Artificial General Intelligence and the Human
Mental Model, Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment. Amnon
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pp. 35-37, June 6, 1923.