The Future of Technology

By Stasinopoulos Sotirios 2019-06-06 16:35:18

Stasinopoulos Sotirios,Tsinghua University Ph.D. in Robotics Founder-CEO, Popular Robotics gives his future insights

The Future of Technology: Stasinopoulos Sotirios


  • Could you explain your role in education and would you describe yourself as a futurologist?

I have been in the educational and robotics field for more than ten years now, having worked as an English teacher for children and adults and a Tsinghua university lecturer during my Robotics PhD years in the Automation Department of Tsinghua University. After working for two years for UBTech Robotics, a large Chinese educational and entertainment robotics company, I saw that the traditional educational system cannot meet the current need for high-quality, well-structured and hands-on high-tech education, such as for programming, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) subjects. That is how I decided to create Popular Robotics, an education technology company that revolutionizes the way robotics and A.I. is taught. Through our online platform Robociti we provide the necessary knowledge to meet beginner to more advanced user needs, but also the necessary community support to help students progress with the help of experts, but also their peers. Given the great demand for robotics and A.I. engineers nowadays and the expected great increase in that demand in the near future, we provide students, mainly teenagers and adults, with the opportunity to kick-start their careers in these highly technical, but also really exciting and promising new fields. I like to believe that we are bringing skills that will be greatly necessary in the future to upgrade the present of education, so in that sense, I could be considered a futurologist, but the truth is that the future is already here and robotics and A.I. is already around us, so we had better adapt to this new era as soon as possible. 

  • How do you foresee the future in education in regards to technology? 

Education will undergo great changes given the advancements in technology, mainly regarding the subjects taught and the method of teaching. On one hand, following the penetration of technology in almost all industries, even the most traditional ones, like the medical, legal, educational ones and others, everyone will be required to be technically literate even for subjects that were considered cutting-edge in the past decade, including programming, robotics and A.I., which will cause these subjects to be integrated more and more to the curriculum of all schools, much like math and physics. On the other hand, given the introduction of more A.I. tools specifically designed for use by schools and educators, students and teachers could engage in more remote ways of participating in classes, course content presentation can become more immersive with the use of virtual reality (VR) tools and the evaluation of students can become more adaptive using more specialized and personalized Neural Network-based models, among others.

  • Should we as parents embrace the benefits of technology?

Parents should definitely try to take advantage of the new tools provided by the technological progress. The easier access to information regarding children education and the increasing variety of high-tech educational devices and tools can assist parents in the challenging journey of parenthood and allow them to provide their children with a more diverse and more technology-oriented education.

  • What would you say to parents that are fearful of technological change in the classroom?

It is true that most of these new technology-based tools and methodologies are new and have not been used for many decades like the traditional educational techniques. Therefore, it is rather natural that parents should also be cautious about the careless adoption of these new advancements, and should always make sure parents and children feel comfortable with these new methods, especially when it comes to sharing students’ personal information or when evaluation is based on models created by data groups that may not be representative of their children’s characteristics. A.I. is not a panacea, but it can definitely improve children’s education in many ways.

  • How can A.I. benefit and assist with a child’s learning?

A variety of A.I. methodologies have been created to assist children’s learning and a lot more are under development. Some include smart programs that track students’ performance and adapt the level of educational content provided and the challenges given to students’, while also providing suggestions for improvement. In other cases, intelligent robotic education companions can provide educational content of various topics to students and monitor apart from performance, their disposition towards them in order to better understand their interests. Additionally, the introduction of MAKER spaces and programming, robotics and A.I. courses can spark young students’ creativity and make them think in a more structured and effective way.

  • How could teachers use A.I. in the classroom?

Some A.I. tools have been developed for use directly inside the classroom, using cameras and other sensor systems to track students’ attention during classes and giving an indication to the educators whether students can remain focused in order to adapt and improve their teaching style and content. Furthermore, smart boards and smart tables can assist teachers during class in order to deliver lectures more efficiently. In addition, A.I.-based online platforms and software of different types can be used for students’ homework and evaluation to intelligently adapt to users’ level and maximize the efficiency of studying at home.

  • Should we as parents be encouraging schools to introduce coding?

Of course parents should encourage schools to introduce coding and other more technical courses, such as robotics and A.I. subjects. With the digitalization of most industries and the introduction of new tech-based tools in even the most traditional professions, these new era skills will become a prerequisite for almost all positions in the future and parents should offer their children the opportunity to adapt to this new reality sooner rather than later. There are different levels of difficulty in coding skills that fit different ages, but students can be introduced to simpler coding types from as young as 5-6 years old. Students 5-12 years are best suited to use more visual, block-based programming tools, such as Scratch or Blockly, whereas 12 year old students and above could begin to study more complex programming languages, such as Python or C/C++, which are closer to the ones used in real professional environments.

  • Which countries have successfully embraced technology in the classroom?

Almost all countries around the world have taken steps towards introducing technology inside the classrooms, starting from the development of computer labs, to smart classrooms, the introduction of coding and robotics courses, and the creation of MAKER spaces. Some leading countries include Singapore, South Korea, UAE and others that offer a lot of high-tech tools to teachers and students, with China also progressing really fast in that domain, investing significant funds in the upgrade of its educational sector.

  • How do you foresee education changing over the next 5 to 10 years globally and particularly in the Chinese International Educational Sector? Particularly with regards to technology and also generally.

Education within the next 5 to 10 years will still maintain the way for people to attain all around knowledge, but will embrace a lot of the A.I. and tech-related tools described above. It will also incorporate a lot more technical subjects into the main curriculum so that students can be at least exposed, if they do not choose to follow that career path, to the subjects that will become the core of the new tech-based professions that will gradually increase in demand in all industries. Specifically Chinese education will be one of the leaders in that change, due to the support of the Chinese government towards the adoption of technical courses into the curriculum of educational institutes all over the country as proven by the latest 5-year plan. The Chinese International Educational Sector will also follow that trend and in some cases provide these coding, robotics and A.I. courses even faster to its students in order to stay competitive and meet the parents’ expectations of high quality educational standards.