What Children Need to Learn in a Future Impacted by AI

If your child isn’t a straight-A student today, don’t worry, take the long view. In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will automate many jobs and disrupt industries, outperforming people in many areas. In generations prior, college degrees and post-graduate degrees were a path toward having careers with higher than average income-earning potential. Automation due to […]

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If your child isn’t a straight-A student today, don’t worry, take the long view. In the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will automate many jobs and disrupt industries, outperforming people in many areas. In generations prior, college degrees and post-graduate degrees were a path toward having careers with higher than average income-earning potential. Automation due to AI will impact both white collar and blue collar jobs alike. Presently AI is already beginning to make inroads in the areas of medicine, legal, marketing, customer service, bookkeeping, financial services, business analytics, transportation, publishing, and others. What do you do in an uncertain future? Here are some tips that can help enable your child to learn the skills that she or he needs to flourish in a future impacted by AI.

Encourage Free Play Time, Entrepreneurism, and Creativity

Benefit: Develop skills in critical reasoning, problem-solving, lateral-thinking, and applied creativity.

In your child’s lifetime, she or he may have multiple careers and personal pivots. As AI will increase job displacement, job security will depend on your child’s ability to adapt and be flexible, creative, and resourceful.

In the future, everyone will need to chart their own career paths, and having entrepreneurial skills will be essential in navigating uncharted waters. Develop your child’s entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills by starting a business. It could be as simple as a neighborhood lemonade stand, or as ambitious as finding a way to solve one of humanity’s greatest challenges. For example, Boyan Slat was a teenager when he conceived of the idea to anchor a massive bow-shaped floating barrier to the seabed to help clean up plastic pollution in the ocean [1]. In September 2018, The Economist reported that Slat’s idea became a reality when he was 25 years old with $23 million in funding and the launch of “System 001,” the first of a fleet to clean the Pacific Ocean.

Encourage out-of-the-box-thinking, and use boxes, literally. Rather than discard cardboard shipping boxes, packaging, and single-use plastics, reuse them for art projects or make your own board game and toys.

Teach your children how to learn, instead of having them memorize facts and figures. Use the Socratic Method when conversing with your child. Answer your child’s question with a question in order to stimulate critical reasoning, develop ideas, and eliminate hypotheses. As AI becomes more sophisticated in imitating human voice, images, and writing, having the skills to perform critical reasoning will help in assessing the level of accuracy and bias in information sources.

Play Team Sports

Benefit: Develop teamwork skills, discipline, focus, self-mastery, and a sense of community.

According to a research study published in Pediatrics, physical activity may improve children’s cognitive performance and brain function during tasks involving greater executive control [2]. Playing team sports helps a child learn the value of practice, discipline, grit, resiliency, and hard work. Children learn how to be a member of a wider community, how to get along effectively with others, and how to work together as a team player. Team sports teach children how to respect authority and take constructive criticism from coaches. Physical fitness promotes emotional and mental well-being, and playing sports establishes a foundation for your child to maintain an active lifestyle into adulthood. Sports are a healthy outlet to counter the mental stress and anxiety that may arise from the job insecurities that AI automation will cause.

Play board games

Benefit: Develop social-emotional intelligence, good sportsmanship, and strategic thinking.

Having strong social and communication skills will be critical in the future. Networking, communication, and interpersonal skills will be skills that every individual will need to use. Individuals with larger professional and social networks will be more likely to have more opportunities open to them.

These soft skills can be learned. Encourage your children to play board games. Playing games helps develop your child’s communication skills, sportsmanship, integrity, and social intelligence. Children learn to compete, take turns, play by the rules, and master their emotions whether they win or lose.

An added benefit of playing board games is the intellectual development and mental exercise. Games like chess help develop strategic thinking, cause and effect, and long-range planning skills. There is a lot of math, reading, and strategy that is needed to play Monopoly. Games like Scrabble help develop math skills, spelling, and vocabulary.

Minimize all forms of electronics, read printed books instead

Benefit: Develop proactive life-long learning, curiosity, and self-directed exploration.

How many times have you seen parents in restaurants, airports, and other public places using the “electronic babysitter.” where their children are glued to glowing screens to keep quiet? From the teens and adults that you know, how many of them seem addicted to smartphones, television, social media, or video games? Move from passive to active neural engagement. Instead of tablets and smartphones, ask your child to bring a printed book along wherever they go. Encourage kids to read pages whenever they have the time, on topics of their choosing, to ignite their sense of wonder and awe. The concept is for the child to proactively seek ways to stimulate their minds on their own, versus being a passive recipient of electronic content. Unless you are raising a future competitive video gaming star in e-sports, minimize the electronics, and maximize reading printed books.

Copyright © 2018 Cami Rosso All rights reserved.
Originally published on Psychology Today on October 23, 2018.


1.       “A teenager’s plan to trawl for plastic in the Pacific becomes a reality.” The Economist. September 13, 2018.

2.     Hillman CH, Pontifex MB, Castelli DM, Khan NA, Raine LB, Scudder MR, Drollette ES, Moore RD, Wu CT, Kamijo K. “Effects of the FITKids randomized controlled trial on executive control and brain function.”Pediatrics. Oct 13, 2014.

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