“Who Can Replace a Man”?: The Attitudes of Arts Students towards the Role of Robots and AI in the 21st Century (A Case Study from the Course ‘Selected Short Stories’)
Keywords:attitude, arts students, technology, robots and AI, employment
This research surveyed attitudes towards robots and AI of 34 students who enrolled in the course Selected Short Stories at the Faculty of Arts, Silpakorn University. The short story “Who Can Replace a Man?” (1963) was used as a tool to initiate conversation and questions since the story presents the future where robots replace the human workforce. Published half a century ago, this imagination still reflects and questions the current situation of the 21st century job market where humans are increasingly competing with and depending on technology. The research employed classroom discussion and asked for personal opinions via semi-constructed questionnaires with the aims to 1) explore the students’ awareness of the current abilities of robots and AI, and to 2) examine their attitudes and opinions towards the issue of technology replacing the human workforce. The framework of Attitudes Towards Technology (ATT) by Mitcham and Ehlers & Kerschner was then used to identify the students’ types of attitude. The results show that most students’ understanding of the potential of technology was sufficient and most students believed that technology would replace the human workforce as presented in the short story. However, the majority were adamant that jobs in the field of humanities could not be replaced by technology. The survey concluded that Determinism was the main attitude type of this group. Further explanation from the students exhibited a trait that is congruent with the ATT framework, that is, they felt the way technology shapes society is dependent on how it is used.
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