Learning to live (on the future of learning)

This is a guest post by Rudy de Waele & Humberto Schwab, originally posted on Medium.

Learning to live

As new technological innovation is eating the world, the need to improve the connection between the academic and business world becomes dramatically urgent in order to predict future jobs. Our students need to be better prepared for an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing job market and start using the relevant digital tools in a connected platform environment and more reflection towards a purposeful and meaningful future.

“Information Technologies have literally changed the way we work and live the past 20 years. New technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing will revolutionise our next 20 years at an exponential rate.” (Klaus Schwab — “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”)

Economists often predict that millions of job losses will occur in the world’s leading sectors over the next five years, however, technology experts counter argue that innovation will in fact create more jobs and a culture of prosperity overall.

Whichever side you favour, the reality and true stands; we will all have to adapt to a new world of ideas and innovation, and at the same time, grasp the opportunity to mould this technological dominated future.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), growth in the developed world will be ‘weak’ for the next fifty years and inequality will rise by 40 per cent. Klaus Schwab mentions that the four traditional attributes which have come to symbolise a middle-class status; education, health, pensions and house ownership — have all performed badly, worse than inflation.

For example, in the United States and United Kingdom, a good education is now priced as a luxury, operating a societal winner-takes-all market economy in which the middle-class has increasingly limited access.

We now start to see the real potential of how computational and digital technology is affecting business and society. Education is one of the last sectors where disruption is happening or is going to happen, and the question we need to ask now is — How can education be disrupted to move from a centuries old Industrial Age structural-model towards a more dynamic, open, networked-model which realistically prepares our children for their own future?

With technologies growing at an exponential rate and humans only able to think in a linear way, the tension intensifies between human beings and technology and our ability to create balance and manage this relationship.

Jeremy Rifkin introduced us to the concept of the 3rd Industrial Revolutionin 2011, and only a few years later Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, launched the 4th Industrial Revolution. Time will tell in which revolution we really are in right now.

Technological developments will transform the way we live, and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. And what is certain is that the future workforce will need to align its skill set to keep pace.

So, how do we prepare our children for such future?

Definitely not with teaching them the same things now as we did 50 years ago. How do we organise our non-working force to retrain and re-educate to something valuable to do in their future? How do we, as a workforce move into a continuous learning mode knowing that the future will be ever-changing along our professional career?

As we hand over lots of our capabilities to our devices everyday, how do we stand as humans into this new future surrounded by technology?

On one level, we need to evolve to a different type of educational ecosystem where teachers, students, parents, external business mentors and experts, with physical access to knowledge at school and online learning tools (education networks & platforms, MOOCs) at their disposal and tools to evaluate and redirect their personal progress and choice.

On the other hand, creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes. Robots and AI may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet). Developing and empowering our unique human capacities will become even more important in the near future.

“Meaningful collaboration between people and machines must not subvert human creativity, feeling and questioning over speed, profit and efficiency.”(Tom Chatfield — The Guardian)

It is crucial to develop new technological learning tools according to these drastically different perspectives. For the new paradigm of learning cultural development and learning technological skills should be unified under a new challenge of the classical concept of “Bildung”.

“Bildung” aims at personal development and growth in a cultural (and thus technological) context, it means that learning is not only a tool but also a permanent value in our life.

“Learning to live meaningful”, will become the deepest goal of young and old. We design our lives including cool and adventurous learning experiences, we will want to “improve” ourselves, not to function as machines (they’ll do better anyway) but as aesthetic and ethical creative artists of life, even if we do not work.

Technology is challenging us to this endeavour of a new meaning. Ideas such as the algorithmification of our culture and society or the Blockchain technology will enrich old concepts of knowledge. This requires a re-design of our way of thinking and self-awareness within both our interactions and our organisations. If we want children to learn how to have a fruitful relationship with technology, a connection to humanity is paramount.

We don’t need to adapt our human existence to technology as we did with pottery, ironwork, the clock and the steam engine, for example. Those were dominant technologies that defined everything: convergence technology, everything was seen as a machine!

Digital technology is divergent: it becomes as plasmatic as our nervous system; we can literally design any culture we want. Technology will serve any mode we choose, as long as we know what we want it to be. From there, everything is possible to create a new independent tech paradigm.

Every person can have his or her own personal challenge program that always reaches for the next level, one can dialogue at any moment with any group of learners regardless of age and can produce and create knowledge at any moment of his/her “Bildung” process. Most of all one learns in a social and cultural context, it is about collective values in an empathetic sphere.

We will be active in making our societies, our villages our cities, not as comfort ends but as active playing fields for personal growth. The endless possibilities of technology have the promise of the Renaissance: the human designing himself. The goal of our life will be: reaching ever-deeper levels of wisdom and knowledge.

As all these trends happen, the winners will be those who are able to participate fully in innovative-driven ecosystems by providing new ideas, business models, products and services, rather than those who can offer only low-skilled labour or ordinary capital.

We will jump from the paradigm of “knowledge transfer” to the makers’ paradigm of “creating knowledge in a new ecology of mind”.

“Once we’re no longer conflating the idea of “work” with that of “employment,” we are free to create value in ways unrecognized by the current growth-based market economy.” (Douglas Rushkoff in Pacific Standard)

Children are not indolent passive listeners and do not respond fully to one dimensional teaching, it is time to create a new breeding ground so they may become true culture makers and change agents of technology in a human / socratic design process.

Rudy de Waele & Humberto Schwab

Humberto Schwab & Rudy de Waele

Socratic Design Workshop – Cadaqués, February 26-27, 2016.

Rudy de Waele and Humberto Schwab are organising a Socratic Design Workshop in Cadaqués, the pearl of the Costa Brava on February 26-27 2016. This two-day workshop includes an overview of future transformative trends by our special guest and participant Gerd Leonhard.

Come and join us for this unique opportunity to learn to use the Socratic Design Method, get insights about the world we’re moving into rapidly, and learn how to transform and adapt your business to prepare for the perpetual technological changes ahead. In good company, in a unique atmosphere.

The program is ideal for Executives and Startup Entrepreneurs.




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