Education in the Future

artifical intelligence

Once upon a time, education was measured in the form of a piece of paper — the degree in hand. Things are changing fast and the job market will drastically change, more so for the unprepared.

In words of Jon Valvano, the instructor of the popular UT Austin course Embedded Systems – Shape the World,

True education is about mastering skills and not a race to the top ….. It doesn’t matter what we say with our words, or what we write in our books. What really matters is what you do in the laboratory.

In old times, a person was known by his single skill such as a knight, a philosopher, or a magician. Or the product he used to build such as a goldsmith, blacksmith, woodcutter, cobbler and the likes. There were no resumes. You showed what you got. The industrial revolution introduced new concepts of a safe and permanent job throughout the lifetime of a person, 40 hours of work per week and two days off every week. Although it is just about 200 year old development, we take it as the normal way of living.

As they say, the more the things change, the more they remain the same. The Internet has disrupted our economics as a great equalizer. The way it has opened new channels of acquiring information and doing businesses has been unprecedented in human history. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will be clear winners in the long run by virtue of gaining diverse knowledge and a unique set of skills. That leads to utilizing the wonderful capabilities of our minds.

Human mind is the most extraordinary device in the universe. Once filled with different kinds of information, it connects seemingly disparate concepts to create new ideas and products. Imagine how Internet has facilitated channelling such kind of knowledge into our heads and creating ground for new discoveries — for each and every individual. In my opinion, those who complete conventional degrees will be left behind by those who keep on expanding their skill set.

Very soon, degrees will become obsolete or at best good for nothing but menial jobs. What will count will be your skill set and more importantly what you have created in the past by using them. Everyone will need to show the world what they have got. Just like the knights and goldsmiths of the past used to do.

According to Harari’s excellent book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind:

The best armies today require a small number of highly professional soldiers using very high-tech kit. Factories, too, are increasingly automated.

This is one reason why we might – in the not-too-distant future – see the creation of the most unequal societies that have ever existed in human history.

[with brain enhancement technologies available to a small elite and artificial intelligence in the machines, ordinary people will lose their conventional economic role] Once you lose your economic importance, the state loses at least some of the incentive to invest in your health, education and welfare.

It’s very dangerous to be redundant.

Your future depends on the goodwill of some small elite.

It almost baffles beyond belief that a single hacker George Hotz is able to tell Elon Musk — the billionaire and the man behind many of the most extraordinary human ventures possible — how he should run Tesla’s self-driving cars. Soon, some people like him will be worth more than largest multi-national corporations of today. As Erif Hoffer said,

In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

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