If you’re a young person what will you future look like? If you’re a parent how do you prepare your child for an unknown future? Things are changing fast and yet in many ways they’re staying exactly the same.
There are programs being set up to ensure that kids learn computer coding in school. The CEO of Google recently spoke about the need for school systems to ”train the knowledge workers of the future.” He said nice things about how those are the people who get the jobs and there was a suggestion that the people in those jobs are the ones who are capable of taking greater control, which is both true and misleading.
What I would like draw your attention to however is the CEO’s assumption about education: as though it could only be for job training. In fact, I’ll bet many people reading this are thinking–but it is! Not historically. We’ve been so brainwashed to think we need to buy things and then work to pay for them that we can’t even remember that people used to just live through cooperation and that they learned for learning’s sake.
Remember being a kid? Being alive for joy instead of profit? I know the two are sold as being the same thing but they most certainly are not. One very often prevents the other.
I support the idea of teaching coding. As someone who’s worked as a teacher, I joined many other fine instructors in their concerns. It was not difficult to detect the shift. The students are just as capable, but there has clearly been a steady decline in their reasoning skills. When I asked students about it virtually all of them admitted they felt it too–as though other people understood things more completely. That sense of uncertainty lead to them feeling less confident.
There are always exceptions but we are all a product of our environments. Modern students often give up very easily and seemed to be primarily preoccupied with the grades and not the subject itself. They wanted the answer that would save them from punishment and earn them praise, rather than the answer that vigourous and thoughtful debate would reveal.
They’re very good at looking things up and amalgamating other people’s ideas together (intellectual mash-ups, video editing, DJing etc.), but they are increasingly poor at concluding or deducing or otherwise reasoning forward using themselves as the source rather than the culture around them. They all have great smarts, but they are only able to get them half way out of their head.
Coding is a form of logic and it has a form of grammar, which is a separate thing from the language itself. So by seeing the separation between the language and the grammar in that setting it becomes easier for a student to see it in English or whichever traditional languages they’re studying. Despite the concerns about education being viewed as job training, the simple fact is that in the ego-created outer world, the logic aspect will also help a great deal with students problem-solving skills.
I’ve never met a truly stupid person. I’ve met very ignorant people who have been exposed to very few ideas and often by very dominating and rigid personalities. Everyone I taught excited me with their potential. And I am fascinated to see what world they will live in and what world they will build.
What will be fascinating is when we reach the point where the robots can run the whole place themselves. This really isn’t that far away. They’ll be able to mine the metals, build the structures, install and maintain the workings, they will be able to act as the arms and legs of someone paralyzed or maybe we’ll just grow a new spine for the person who injured theirs, and then we’ll have it put in perfectly by a robot surgeon.
We’re going nano, where they’re floating submarines through race horse’s veins and we’re building little DNA dumptrucks that can deliver cancer drugs right to individual cells and then harmlessly dissolve into your body. AI is now programming itself and the levels of sophistication regarding touch and the other senses are getting truly remarkable. Soon you won’t even know if your nurse is real or if she’s a robot that gives amazing back rubs. But either way, something will have to change because there will be no more work.
Are you trained for the future? Because if the robots are driving the cars and picking the stocks and cleaning rooms and mowing lawns and flying the planes and rockets and monitoring babies and writing music and even creating scientific theories and ways to test them (as was done for the very first time just recently), then what are you going to do? If it keeps going the direction it’s headed the future should leave you with no job. So what will your identity be then? Who would you be if you didn’t describe yourself through your work?
Imagine the robot world complete. You have all of the free time in the world and if you want a nicer houses you just have a robot build you one. What’s your day look like? And really think about it. Because if you say masturbate or play video games or text, you know full well you’ll get bored after a while.. Too much of anything is unpleasant. But with the time you’re not using for those things, what are you using it for? This is a question that cuts to the core of who you are.
Whatever future you unfold, and in whatever context–just be aware. You are a genius by birth. Your only true job in life is to realize your own genius and then live that reality boldly for as long as possible. You belong. The suffering you experience is not failure. It is training you to be able to actively lead your own life. Enjoy.
Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.