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Education in the Emerging Technology Age

The future will be full of tremendous opportunities, but it will also be a world of tremendous uncertainty.

For a start, everyone is going to need a much better understanding of the technologies surrounding computers, communication networks, artificial intelligence and big data. For many of us, the underlying technologies that are driving social change remain a mystery and that is a problem.

Practical technical knowledge also needs to be integrated into many fields of education. Coding and data analytics seems a good starting point.

But, we also need to think about other skills and capacities that are important in a world of unprecedented change. The focus should be on building skills that will assist the next generation in making the right decisions under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

Here are some suggestions on the kind of issues that I believe are important:

#1 — Creative Thinking

The next generation has to be able to think fast and “out of the box”.

Dynamic analysis of complex situations and the ability to communicate solutions, in presentations or in video form, will be key.

#2 — Entrepreneurship

In the future, we will see more open and looser organizations and social platforms. It is therefore important that the next generation finds ways to become more productive and self-motivating, i.e., how to operate without a “boss”/supervisor telling them what to do.

As traditional concepts of a “career” become much less relevant, it will become increasingly important to build a personal brand by telling the right kind of story.

#3 — Teamwork

More open organizations mean having to work in teams of strangers, often from diverse national or disciplinary backgrounds.

The ability to work in a team, constantly adapting to new situations and working patterns, becomes crucial.

#4 — Ethics

Many of the problems of the future will be ethically complex. This seems particularly true in the context of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Yet, all new technologies raise difficult ethical issues. Building the capacity of students to think about ethics seems another way that teachers can add value.

#5 — Interdisciplinary learning

Finally, we need to be open to interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study, however strange it might initially seem.

For example — and this is just a personal opinion — I think that a greater knowledge of biology can help prepare the younger generation for the challenges of the future.

Partly, this reflects my own preference for biology metaphors for understanding recent changes in the business world. I have written elsewhere on Tesla as an open and inclusive “ecosystem”. I believe that metaphors involving the “environment” and “evolution” are similarly helpful.

But, this also reflects my belief that the next big wave of innovation is likely to be in the field of biology, and that knowledge of the field will be at a premium.

Of course, I could be wrong about this. But the basic thought that exposure to multiple perspectives can only help in preparing the younger generation for an uncertain future, is surely correct.

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