In the ongoing debate over robots vs. humans, an article appeared in the news that sheds a different light on the subject. The Global Times of China reported that a driving school in the city of Zhenjiang has begun to use robots as instructors and testers.
While people normally express great anxiety over placing their lives in the hands of a robot, this situation is different. The students remain at the wheel and in control of the vehicle at all times. The robot will only intervene when the car is in danger of running off the road or colliding with another car or obstruction. The school has discovered that the use of robots is actually making the instruction and testing less stressful for the students. Why? Put simply, the robots do not lose their temper, raise their voices, or yell at the students. One student stated, “I’m nervous when a real coach sits beside me. This robot is nicer. Even if I do something wrong, the robot will continue to encourage me, instead of blaming me.”
A Stressless Teacher
The article did not present any statistics on the teaching and testing effectiveness of robots over humans. Yet, the drift of the article was that a less stressful environment better facilitates learning. It’s interesting that the one thing praised about the robots was that they are gentler and nicer than a live person. The robot doesn’t condemn. It gently instructs. Robots don’t have emotional outbursts of anger or fear.
If humans are ever replaced by robots it will be on account of their inability to rule their spirits and exercise patience and gentleness. When it comes to anger, impatience, and emotional outbursts, human beings are at a definite disadvantage to robots. The same is true concerning human pride, haughtiness, and cockiness. These weaknesses make humans less suitable to be teachers, instructors, and guides. These tendencies make them vulnerable to replacement by robots. Who wants to deal with all that garbage? Honestly, I’d rather have a robot teach and test me than deal with a lot of human drama.
Therefore, if we wish to become persons of greater value, then it behooves us to learn from Christ. For Jesus described Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Love, gentleness, and humbleness make us better teachers and guides.
Jesus and Stress
Consider how Jesus behaved during the most stressful period of His life—days before His crucifixion. As the weight of the cross bore heavily upon Him, Jesus never “stressed out” or lost His composure. We might have expected Jesus to be in dire need of encouragement and prayer at this desperate time. But it’s Jesus who cheers, encourages, and prays for others (John 14:1, 27; 16:33; 17:6–26).
In fact, if you read Jesus’ prayer in John 17, nowhere does Jesus rail against or accuses His disciples. On the contrary, Jesus only speaks favorably of them to the Father. “They have kept Your word” (John 17:6). “They have received it, understood, and believed” (John 17:8). “I have been glorified in them” (John 17:10). “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14, 16). There’s no condemnation of the disciples. Jesus only expresses His confidence and approval by these words to the Father.
Even at the Last Supper, just hours before His death, Jesus dealt gently with His disciples. When they argued over which of them was the greatest, Jesus gently corrected them (Luke 22:23–28). This is what made Jesus so effective as a teacher and leader. He didn’t explode in rages or mock His disciples. When Jesus did rebuke them, it was only because they obstructed God’s saving efforts (Matthew 16:21–23; Mark 10:13–15; Luke 9:54–56). Rather than attack His disciples, Jesus went to their defense—even when the religious leaders criticized their deficiencies (Mark 2:18–28). In contrast, our typical human response would have been to growl at the disciples, “Don’t you ever embarrass me again!”
But not Jesus. By His love, patience, gentleness, and humility Jesus towers above us all. And we will only become irreplaceable persons of great value by becoming more and more like Him.
Dear Lord Jesus, open my eyes to behold You. Open my heart to love You more. And transform me, Lord Jesus, into Your glorious image. Amen.