Students' Good Work

Learning English through Debating

 

You recently watched a debate titled ‘Will robots replace workers in the future?’ Your teacher has asked you to write a two-sided argumentative essay about the debate.

 

Write your essay, looking at both sides of the argument and supporting your points with reasons and examples. Include three points for each side of the argument. End with your own opinion on the topic.

 

Ever since the dawn of computers, in the 1980s, humans have wondered about the potential of robots, with critically-acclaimed Star Wars and Star Trek exploring the idea of sentient, metallic man-made beings; robots. Some even fear that robots will one day become unruly and overthrow human beings. While these scenarios are just in the realm of fantasy, the debate relating to robots has never been this controversial, with the question whether robots will replace future workers. It is high time humans considered the role of robots in our jobs.

 

On the one hand, some experts believe that robots can never completely replace humans and the fear is just hysteria.

 

Their leading argument is that these robots lack humanity and empathy. Could you imagine one day seeing your kids being sent off to a school with all teachers being robots? As a parent, one certainly would not be at ease thinking that these cold automatons are teaching, shaping and taking care of my child. All their words would simply be programmed in to be said, making what is said seem not genuine. This is the same for nurses too. The patients could not possibly feel well being treated by these unfamiliar robotic nurses.

 

Another strong point is that robots could never be programmed to imitate human creativity. Professions such as artist and musician are largely based on one’s creative expressions, usually embossed with emotions that act as their sources of inspiration. Certainly, with sophisticated algorithms, this artificial intelligence can imitate what humans have created, but certainly not advance it, just as how human’s musical and artistic taste have evolved over the centuries. The story goes the same in fields concerning research. Robots excel in testing and proving an hypothesis, but what about the part where one hypothesizes? No artificial intelligence can have that ‘apple-falling-down’ moment that Newton had nor the pioneering thought that animals evolved, that Darwin had. Without human creativity, a robot can only do so much.

 

The striking blow is that machines can never imitate what humans can do outside of what they are programmed to do. Recently, “Alpha Zero”, a chess-bot created by Google has become the first to be undefeated against the world’s number one in chess, Magnus Carlsen. However, according to experts, chess is but a game of pattern and strategy. Robots can be trained to notice these patterns and use the corresponding strategies with ease. However, pattern recognition is simple and only utilizable in one field only. Chess is complicated for humans but easy for robots, while many real life work is easier for humans though harder for robots. This is due to their lack of the ability to improvise. Without this, no employers would want to employ them, especially in the field of businesses, where negotiations and unusual situations are prevalent.

 

However, these main arguments hold very little weight as they have not considered the latest advancements in robot technology.

 

The advent of ‘Machine learning’ is a buffet or Pandora’s box of troubles for those who believe robot cannot replace human. While robots cannot be programmed to do things outside of the limitation of its programme, computer engineers have therefore thought of programming robots to learn. On the Internet, there are already an assortment of music and arts created by robots with the advanced learning function. It is, therefore only a matter of time until robots are the ones who make trends, especially during these times when people care little about meanings behind creative works rather than aesthetic of a work of art and the rhythm of the music. The new-found ability for trial-and-error gives robots a huge competitive edge.

 

Teachers and nurses are not spared either. Coupled with the technology of ‘Deep-fakes’ in which people can create fake videos of someone saying a string of words, this imitation technology enables robots to actively learn the needs of a human child or a patient; essentially substituting the work of a teacher and a nurse. The artificial intelligence could, therefore, simply imitate a successful teacher, in terms of methodology of raising a bright kid, while catering to a child’s needs. In fact, parents should be happy that the teacher is a robot, as robots will treat everyone equally, as they would be programmed to meet everyone’s needs. This is more or less the same for robotic nurses.

 

In fact, no one in society is free from the hands of robots. Even today, manufacturers are using automated systems to manufacture their products, ranging from cars to everyday ready-made meals. In fact, it is cheaper overall for producers utilizing robotic help. As, while there is an expensive up-front cost of purchasing the machinery, they no longer need to pay for the expensive recurring labour cost. In the long run, there can only be so many developing and third-world countries to where they can relocate to tap into the cheap labour costs. Eventually, the India today and the Africa tomorrow will follow China’s footsteps. By then, the robot is the only answer to the tedious work.

 

There is no doubt that the future looks grim regarding the prospects of jobs, as eventually, everyone is replaceable by robots. However, the future is only bleak if you think using a modern-day mindset. During the American 2020 presidential election, a Democrat candidate Mr. Wang proposed the implementation of ‘Universal basic income’, in which everyone is guaranteed a stable monetary income, regardless of your economic background. In the future, humans possibly need not work at all (as robots would do all the work). Regardless, it is indisputable that robots will replace human workers. As such, the discussion should not revolve around whether this will happen, rather how to deal with the problems that arise from robots.                                   

 

KC Jason 6A (10)                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Dear Ms. Chan,

 

I am pleased to hear that a large sum of money was donated to our school. As a student, I am willing to share my opinions on how the money should be used. I would also like to discuss how to thank the donor.

 

To start off, the school should get new computers. I noticed that most of the school’s computers in the multi-media learning room are either too outdated or broken. Therefore, many students are forced to share their computers with another student during lessons. I happened to be one of the unfortunate victims as I took ICT as my elective.

 

Another reason to get new computers which is worth noting, is the fact that some of our students come from less wealthy backgrounds. They lack computers at home for studying so it is necessary for them to complete certain online tasks at school. It is crucial to aid them. I am sure if new computers are introduced to the students, they will be able to utilize them for self-learning.

 

Expanding our school playgrounds would be another option. To be specific, the school should provide more space for sports such as volleyball, tennis, etc. Most of our school teams need to practice in public areas. They spend a large amount of precious time on travelling instead of practising. New playgrounds enable them to train more effectively and conveniently. In addition, it provides more opportunity for students to enjoy doing sports in school. Students are always snowed under with mountains of work, so having spare space to relax allows them to relieve their stress.

 

In order to show our gratitude for the donor’s generosity, we can organise a dinner for the donor in a Chinese restaurant. Certainly, it would be better to ask the donor if he likes the arrangement first. During the dinner, we can give him a memorial medal. We should also name our newly built courts after the donor.

 

That’s all I have to share with you. I hope you will consider my suggestions.

 

Yours sincerely,

Chris Wong

 

Lamb Chung 5A (8)

 

 

Keeping Pets ------ Troublesome or Easy-peasy?

 

Is keeping pets really fun or troublesome? Many people nowadays want to have pets of their own due to its rise in popularity. In a thematic survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in 2005, it was estimated that 286/300 households, which is 12 % of the households in Hong Kong had around 524,800 pets! Most of them were dogs, cats, turtles and tortoises. But why do people really want pets anyway? It could be because pets are cute or loving or for company or for learning new skills or people just want to follow the trends or be fashionable. Keeping pets is not a bad thing but there are pros and cons of this decision and I will present them through this article.

 

Keeping pets can bring out a few advantages. First of all, it is great to have pets to keep you company. And you can have somebody to love and care for. Pets are great for people who suffer from anxiety or depression. They will help them feel less lonely. Pets can cheer you up when you’re feeling down. Pets are also great for people who have bad family relationships because when you have similar interests about something, you have topics that you can talk about. In addition, keeping pets can help you become a better person, such as being more responsible and patient, allowing you to control your emotions correctly or communicate with others in different ways.

 

However, there are some disadvantages of keeping pets. First of all, it is time-consuming since most pets need a great deal of our attention. There are also extra costs involved such as medical fees, pet food, equipment and toys. Besides, extra time has to be involved for preparing food and playing with them. Extra space is involved too because we need to set up cages and reserve areas for our pets to move around.

Before having a pet, there are a few things to consider. You need to have a family meeting first, think carefully about which type of pet will be suitable and you must do research on the special requirements of the animal. After getting them, you need to make sure that you can give the pet a safe and comfortable environment for them to stay. You must provide them with the right type of pet food. You must also take them to the vet for regular medical check-ups and get them vaccinated to prevent diseases.

 

In short, keeping pets can help us in different ways. They can be lovable and sweet, so in return, you must care for them and love them as your own family members. Some pets may not have a long life so you must cherish the time with them being around.

 

Wu Tsz Yan 2A (30)

 

Life of a journalist

 

Journalist, just another boring job that includes two parts: interviewing and writing a report. If that’s your idea of a journalist, I can tell you that you are far from the truth. I am Chris Wong, currently a reporter for Hong Kong News. Many of you would know me as the photographer of “The gunshot” and the exposer of “Delta Cooperations’ Compliment Incident”. I started out as a weather reporter at the STAR Post after I changed my job a couple of times. I was also a war correspondent and a freelance journalist. The path of a journalist has certainly been bumpy for me, but I love my job nevertheless.

 

I.                    The best part of my job

 

It’s a rather tough choice to just choose just one aspect of my work. I mean, the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen next is certainly up there! The people I get to meet and befriend, well that’s nice too…but if I have to choose, I would say it’s the people I get to help. By exposing the truth behind some of the crimes, including political scandals, I get to help a lot of people to regain their rights. It’s the sense of justice that has kept me here and the people I can help. Knowing that is the biggest achievement I have in my life. To me, being a journalist is the best job in the world.

 

II.                  The biggest challenge I have ever faced

 

The winning photo of the international photo shooting competition, “The gunshot”, was one of the biggest achievements in my life, but also a downfall. I was a war correspondent at that time. It happened when I was in the warzone of a Southeast Asian country. When I was walking down the street, I saw a soldier pointing a gun at the head of a citizen. I didn’t know it was an execution at the time. I did what I was used to, fishing out the camera from my pocket and snapped a photo. The next thing I saw was a screen spotted with red. That drew a line through my life as a war correspondent. I had PTSD. Every time I close my eyes, the scene plays out repeatedly. Every loud noise resembles the sound of the gunshot. I would scream myself awake almost every night. But the most unbearable part is the depression, the guilt from the fact that I consciously chose to take a photo of a dying man instead of trying to save him. I haven’t taken up my camera since then. My job switched to a freelance journalism, taking up any job offer I can. I was like the living dead. But I saw the light in one of the cases, that I can help people by exposing the truth with pen and paper. I know it can’t make up for what I did, but I can help people with the way I know best and this made me who I am right now. I am planning or returning to the position of war correspondent soon, but this time with another purpose, accelerating the ending of wars by exposing the cruel truth.

 

III.                My school days

 

Being a journalist has always been my ideal job. I have been taking writing classes and photo taking classes ever since Primary Six. I immediately joined the school newspaper after entering secondary school. I entered the STAR Post Article Competition and won, earning myself a place as a junior reporter for Young STAR Post. It was pretty straight forward for me. I joined the STAR Post right after graduating from university.

 

IV.                Pursue your dream

 

As you can see, there will be a lot of obstacles on your path to achieving your dream. There will always be something that makes you doubt your belief. But you should not give up on hope. If you keep it in your palms and fight for your future, you will triumph, sooner or later.

 

Issac, Mak Ching Hei 5A (22)     

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