Machine vs. Man:
“Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery”, said Horace Mann, an 18th century American educational reformer and promoter of public education.
But, what can we teach our children in an age, when machines that we’re programming with our superior computer coding skills are dictating how we must think, feel and act. Remember, this was our unique value proposition as humans to begin with – our mind – that can help us think, feel and act. Yet, we’re allowing tech distractions and addictions to cloud over it.
The dwindling cost of knowledge:
The cost of knowledge is going down. The answers to most of our day to day questions can be downloaded from the Internet in a matter of seconds.
Its no secret that the teachers of tomorrow wouldn’t necessarily know more than the students they will teach in the context of academia.
In such a world, the only thing we can teach our children is the timeless skills like soft skills. We can teach them what information is relevant and what’s not.
Yesterday’s curriculum for today?
Its a no-brainer that we cannot implement the same curriculum and use the same teaching methods of the 90’s or even the last decade for the i-Generation of today.
In a world where AI is becoming sentient and developing emotions, sentiments and desires, we must raise our children to deal with unpredictable change and information overload. With tools that develop mental flexibility and emotional balance, we can ensure that they learn to listen to themselves first and use their power to choose with integrity and responsibility.
After all, the solution to any problem we have to confront will be determined by the weapon and its right use in our hands. And technology and AI in the hands of people with the wrong intent can lead to disastrous consequences for our collective future.
The future of work:
JP Morgan recently did an experiment with AI and the results are frightening for those of us who want to stay employed in the long run. What took human associates 200,000 hours to process loan applications took minutes for a machine to accomplish.
We might be learning a new job skill every 15 years just to keep up with technology and thrive in the workforce. GPAs, merit scholarships and certifications can mean very little in such a world.
What will be the jobs of the future for which we can “educate” our children for. Will there be any more travel agents left if your AI assistant can book a flight for you? What will happen to all those loan application officers if AI is able to make customer risk decisions in a matter of seconds? Who will need customer service reps when we can expect our machines to run an algorithm that can scan 1000’s of pages of help content from the support documentation? We’ve all seen videos of robots installing dry walls, so what does that mean for construction jobs in the future?
Marrying machines and men:
Technology has seen exponential growth over the past few decades. A computer of 1957 was just a collection of switches and plastic tubes. In today’s world a 1000$ machine is a beast that’s controlling our productivity and our destiny.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have already begun to read the sentiments and feelings of the common man. Cue, our personalized recommendation lists on YouTube, Netflix and the Kindle reader.
Technology is here to stay, so, we might as well marry it with our humanity. A correct union will include the strengths of man and machine coming together. After all, technology should make us more productive and effective as humans.
Machines are capable of doing well understood tasks automatically. Man is good at entertaining, creating and understanding the humor in sarcasm and irony.
This is what we must teach our children.
Retain your inner wisdom that’s inherent to you and work with AI to innovate for tomorrow. You must not lose empathy and machine should not acquire emotion.
As of 2015, a single computer processor has more intelligence than a mouse, which has about a 1000th of the human intelligence level. The world’s computer power doubles approximately every two years. That means a single computer processor is set to surpass the brain power of a single human in 2023. And by 2045, its expected to surpass the brain power of all human brains combined.
Lessons outside the classroom:
Let’s face it, the rigor and structure of academics is no match for real life which is boring, unstructured and volatile. Real life needs us to constantly change and adapt to its volatile nature. Real life problems need quick thinking and an attitude of resilience in the face of obstacles.
Because real life problems can be messy, long and can test the limits of our endurance, there is no one right answer.
In our childhood we learnt everything through unregimented self exploration and sheer force of willpower – like walking and talking. As children we found joy in the freedom of expression and creativity that unstructured play offers.
As we begin to grow, we stop playing to our strengths and start learning through text books. But children learn from so many places outside of the classroom. By witnessing our lives, they learn the power of self regulation, hardwork and everyday leadership in the struggles of real life. From the society, they learn tolerance and understanding that everyone has a unique value proposition.
We’re seeing how children who are not taught the value of reading emotions, understanding empathy and the ability to collaborate are becoming leaders whose moral character and conduct is being called into question. We need to teach our boys how to treat girls like equals and we need to teach our girls how to stand up for themselves.
We won’t have all the answers to their questions, but we can encourage them to never stop asking questions. After all, some questions about the meaning of life don’t have any answers.
We must teach our children the value of small joys that bring fulfillment to life. “Build super intelligent computers but once in a while, stop to listen to what your instincts are telling them. Stay on task, focus on your strengths and do the hard things with honesty and determination. Stay curious and never stop learning.”
Our problems are evolving at an exponential rate too. While we’re struggling to take out the phone out of their hands now, in the next 15 years, we might be struggling to take out a chip implanted into their heads. As adults and caregivers, we must equip ourself to thrive in a state of constant evolution or else we’ll be left in the dust.