Thought Pieces

Educating the mind in a robotic age

Five new Thought Pieces for Headteachers

Dear Head

I have recently been asked to join the Review Panel for the UNESCO Policy Guidelines for AI in Education. UNESCO’s role is to highlight risks, as well as opportunities, and provide guidance on best practice in using AI and digital technologies within schools around the world.

The UNESCO policy guidelines will not be published for some months. Therefore, I have decided to use this series of Head’s Thought Pieces to address five areas of concern which will inform my review around the risks of AI and digital technologies.

Links to the five new Thought Pieces can be found in the right menu (if you are reading on a mobile device, scroll to the BOTTOM of the page)

1. Group outrage: why the brain is triggered
2. Fake news: why the brain gets caught
3. Spotting the fakes: essential skills for a digital age
4. Social media: it’s not narcissism our children are suffering from
5. Dangerous machines: what not to trust about data analytics

Our work in this area is not confined to UNESCO. I am delighted to announce that on April 1st 2019, STEER is hosting an inaugural education conference at the Financial Times Oxford Literary Festival under the title Educating the Human Mind in a Robotic Age. This conference is the first of its kind at the festival and STEER have been specially commissioned to organise and host the day because of our authority in this field.

Details of the globally renowned keynote speakers who have accepted invitation to speak at this important event are found below. Places for this event are limited to 100 and will available only to independent and state Heads and Deputies from the UK schools and wider UNESCO schools. We expect very high demand and places to go very quickly

We have therefore provided an automated email system on the bottom of each page for you to register interest and receive an early announcement on the day which the event-booking website goes live in December.

I look forward to seeing you in Oxford in April!

Dr Simon Walker

STEER is delighted to announce the first FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival Educational Leaders Day

Oxford Literary Festival

Educating the Human Mind in a Robotic Age

April 1st 2019, Oxford

The day is designed for educational leaders and policy makers at the 2019 FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival. The event will address the changes that are required to educate the human mind in a robotic age.

  • The morning session will focus on the effects of social media & digital technologies on the human mind, ability to learn and our mental health.
  • The afternoon session will focus on the unique cognitive capabilities required by graduates to succeed in an economy of machine learning and AI.


Professor John Bargh, Director of the Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation, and Evaluation Lab at Yale University. John has led global research into cognitive priming for the past three decades. John is uniquely positioned to explain the unconscious impacts of the real and digital environments on the minds of young people.

Professor Stephen Roberts, Professor of Machine Learning in Information Engineering at the University of Oxford. Stephen has pioneered the development of intelligent algorithms to analyse big datasets. Stephen will clarify both the power and limits of machine learning, identifying the uniquely human cognitive capacities which will remain critical to educate in a robotic age.

UNESCO ICT in Education sharing global perspectives on technology in education.

The day will be hosted by Dr Simon Walker, Co-founder of STEER. Simon has led STEER’s pioneering work in reducing mental health risks, signposting learning-to-learn skills and improving employability in students across more than 100 schools.


  • Data from an ongoing study of the development of adolescent social cognition between ages of 8-18 involving 30,000 students.
  • An extended panel interview and Q&A with keynote speakers.


Event places are limited to 100 and are available to headteachers, deputies and policy makers in educational trusts & UK government on a first come-first-served basis.

To be be sent an early-notice of the booking site opening date, please email