EXPONENTIAL TECHNOLOGIES & EDUCATION
Session 1 – Everyday Enhancements: There are a few exponentially advancing technologies emerging today that will have major impacts on our lives in the near future. These include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, digital fabrication, biotechnology, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, and more. What will these technologies look like in 10 years? How will they impact our daily lives?
Session 2 – The Future of Education: Given the uncertainty we face as we navigate this rapidly changing world, what are the skills and knowledge necessary to teach students? Does the standard model of lecture-based classes and exams that test memorization and regurgitation make sense in this environment? How will certain technologies impact how we teach and learn in the future? This final module will give students the opportunity to reflect on their own education, and empower students to advocate for the experiences and opportunities they believe will be helpful as they navigate this new world.
THE FUTURE OF WORK
Session 1 – The Changing Nature of Work: Covid-19 has accelerated many work trends that will define what work looks and feels like in the 21st century. At the same time, economic pressures have created types of gig work that are upending traditional employment. These have far reaching implications, both for what professions we chose to enter and where we chose to live. What kinds of skills are better suited for remote-work environments? Which companies and industries are better equipped to adapt to these trends, and which will struggle? Where do we want to live if we can work anywhere in the world
Session 2 – Why Work? As Americans we live in a society that ascribes our value as human beings to our work. If predictions are true, however, we are headed towards a massive wave of automation that will displace millions of jobs. By some estimates, over 30% of all jobs could be automated by 2030. Will new jobs be created? What will happen to our sense of purpose if we are no longer obligated to work? Can policies like universal basic income help society and the economy adapt to these changes?
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE & THE SINGULARITY
Session 1 – Rule Based Systems vs. Machine Learning: From Siri and Alexa to Google Search and Facebook’s Newsfeed, we interact with versions of “artificial intelligence” constantly in our daily lives. We hear terms like “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” and we assume these are concepts best left to computer scientists. The truth is in their basic form these concepts are relatively simple; you don’t need to be good at math or computer science to understand how they work. By comparing two techniques in computer programming, rule-based systems and machine learning, we will learn how to recognize artificial intelligence in our everyday encounters and explore ways these algorithms can influence our decisions.
Session 2 – AGI – The Singularity Is Near: Machine Learning algorithms improve by leveraging massive amounts of data to train on. Currently data is being created exponentially: 2.5 quintillion bits of data was generated everyday in 2018. For the most part we have developed very good narrow AI (algorithms that perform well only in specific domains) and have struggled with general AI (algorithms that perform well across multiple domains). Soon though, that will change. What happens when we create algorithms that perform better than humans in every domain? Is runaway Artificial Intelligence an existential risk to humanity?
THINKING LINEARLY VS EXPONENTIALLY
Session 1 – Identifying Exponential Trends: As humans we are naturally inclined to think of growth linearly. Why is it hard for us to understand exponentials? Using examples like compound interest, the Chinese economy in the 20th century, and the spread of infectious diseases like Covid-19, we will learn to identify exponential trends and why they so often sneak up on us.
Session 2 – Accelerating Rate of Change: An Uncertain Future: Why does it feel like the world is changing faster as time goes on? Ray Kurzweil explains this phenomenon through “The Law of Accelerating Returns”. Kurzweil’s law asserts that the rate of change in many evolutionary systems (including the growth of technology) often increases exponentially. If this is true, how does it change our expectations for the future? What does it mean if history itself is advancing exponentially?