Siri, Artificial Intelligence, and My Impending Obsolescence!

Siri, Artificial Intelligence, and My Impending Obsolescence!

Whether you’re a techie or not, you can’t help but be amazed by the wave of innovation that is transforming our lives. Artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and the inter-webs (that’s a super-technical term) are changing the way we think and live.

Computers, with no help from humans, can now schedule appointments, order groceries, make movie recommendations, monitor your home and unlock your front door. If you get hurt and no one is home to help, a computer-driven car can now take you to the hospital where a machine will operate on you!

Our classrooms and music education are not immune from this technological metamorphosis. As we speak in America’s rehearsal rooms computers now taking attendance, tuning our instruments, charting our drill, managing our inventory, fixing wrong notes, and even grading our students (YEAH SmartMusic). Yes, computers, and their 1’s and 0’s, can do all of this and more instantaneously, automatically, and BETTER than you and I!



Don’t believe me?

  • Which charts drill better and faster, you or the computer?
  • Which has a better ear, you or your tuner?
  • Which keeps better time, you or Dr. Beat (well, he is a doctor)?
  • Which does a better job of managing your music library, you or a computer?
  • Which grades with more accuracy, you or a computer?

To add insult to injury, students are now doing online lessons, electronic masterclasses/courses, and are participating in ensembles via the world wide web. Put Dr. Beat on the podium and I am convinced that I am becoming more and more useless with each and every day. Something my kids are all too quick to attest to.

Seriously? What possible value can a teacher add to the mix? What can a human do faster or better than a computer?

  • Teachers can elicit a smile and scowl.
  • Teachers know when to push and when to back off.
  • Teachers know whether a student needs a kick in the backside or a high five.
  • Teachers can convey disappointment or pride.
  • Teachers have intuition and insight.
  • Teachers can hug and high five.
  • Teachers listen with empathy.
  • Teachers can inspire.

Teachers can teach.

Yes, I will HAPPILY and confidently let a computer drive me to work, make my coffee, take my attendance, and record grades in my grade book. And yes, I will gladly ask Siri what the weather is for my next rehearsal, to remind me to requisition a bus for our next competition, and what the best route is to get there. I will let her/it do all of this and more…

So I can teach.

Yes, we are experiencing a revolution. Yes, computers are replacing humans in ways we never imagined. But through it all, I will smile, because I know something I can do better than Siri.

Scott Lang is a music educator, author, and leadership trainer. He is the author of many music education and leadership publications available from GIA Publications as well as the author of his popular music educator blog. Today, through scottlang.net, he conducts more than 120 workshops annually and he is the force behind bepartofthemusic.org, whose focus is to help music educators attract and retain music students.

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