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Building Your Futures

May 30, 2018

For many years, we have been interested in how best to prepare our youth for their futures. Just recently, daughter Connie, with whom we are now working, explained how her son, Ben, 10, would construct his future universe, and with what personal brand, knowledge and skills. Certainly the ones he is now acquiring in school will not do according to this McLean’s article. 100 of the top independent schools in the USA are seriously considering scrapping the GPA’s (marks) and moving to reporting mainly on demonstrable skill acquisition. That is an educational revolution, and one that will lead the globe and and save the country as number one in unequalled work force .

This is an area that Shelly Palmer has spent much time, and her paper is seminal to the topic. What future will you choose, no matter your age, to meet the best living conditions? The resistance to change is multi-folded, but here are some key reasons. We can’t predict the future, and we don’t understand the underlying factors driving change. So we drift.

Well, we certainly can predict much about the future: jobs are changing; technology is driving the way we live; the environment is deteriorating (and has been since the last Ice Age retreat, and we are urging it on); the demands for a decent life are exceeding the urge for ownership and greed. All of these trends, and many, many more, are reality here and now. But the main drivers of change are still not widely discussed or appreciated.

One view, and a very engaging one, is that there are three main underlying drivers: quantum computers; the cloud and its data; and artificial (or assisted) intelligence, AI, at one level or another. Put together, that trio can diagnose significantly better that doctors; can offer school lessons that cover those many students who are left out because of limited teaching (and learning) techniques; will produce driverless vehicles, holidays in space, deeply humanized working spaces; shopping and merchandizing digitized and on the verge of same day home delivery; Amazon, which knows what you want to read next, just to gloss over the top of a few. The Holodeck may be nearer than we think, though we may have to wait a bit longer to be beamed up.

That is all the noise that keeps us from finding out the implications for living in the future, just as Trump creates noise to cover up his lack of understanding these deeper issues. Just as the academics mystified their knowledge to maintain their power and control of people, and IT has crushed that, our leaders keep dwelling on the noise because the changes will sap their power and positions. Now, just as the deserted workers rebelled in the USA and UK, there needs a further revolution to accommodate to educate our students about these three core drivers.

A further issue is that very few of those who are in power, in business, government or education, knows or have studied any one of these drivers, and certainly not cited them in policy. Pope Francis may be the amazing exception to that. When the US cabinet is constructed with climate change deniers, planned parenthood obstructers, tax reducers for the wealthiest 2 % of the population, and the denial of medical care for tens of millions of the poorest citizens, we know we have a way to go. We may think we are better off here in Canada, and we definitely are, but many of these issues apply to us.

So back to the start. What futures are our kids building in their minds? Each of us should have hat very high on our agendas. Good luck comes for those who are prepared to recognize it when the opportunity presents itself, as our good friend, Mike DeGroote, has said as he supported in major ways, both medicine and education, and many other visionary causes. That is the leadership we need.