I have written many times about the rise of automation and its role in replacing sections of the labor force. This ties to education because the main function of the education system is to provide the citizens with a suitable education to get a job in the workforce. If that workforce changes, then certainly the education system will need to change to.
Science fiction writers have long told of great upheaval as machines replace people. Now, so is research firm Gartner. The difference is that Gartner, which provides technology advice to many of the world’s largest companies, is putting in dates and recommending immediate courses of action.
The job impacts from innovation are arriving rapidly, according to Gartner. Unemployment, now at about 8%, will get worse. Occupy Wall Street-type protests will arrive as early as next year as machines increasingly replace middle-class workers in high cost, specialized jobs. In businesses, CIOs in particular, will face quandaries as they confront the social impact of their actions.
Well that sounds ominous already. So the management will be ok but the lower level people will be out of work. Hmm… that seems to be happening already. The richest people in the US are getting richer and the middle class being pushed into the ranks of the poor. It’s not optimum of course but it’s economics.
From 2020 to 2030, “you are going to see the first human-free enterprise — nobody is involved in it, it’s all software, communicating and negotiating with one another,” said Diane Morello, a Gartner analyst, who has looked at how smart machines will reshape employment.
Yes that’s exactly what I have been predicting when I said that the Internet empowers the creative. Individuals can do more now than ever before.
If technology cuts the workforce leading to a reduced consumer spending, who then buys the goods from increasingly automated companies? There wasn’t a clear answer to that problem, said Morello. “Somebody is going to have to pay for the services,” she said.
Societal change tends to move on a pendulum. It goes one way and then comes back. In my most optimistic scenario, machines will provide all of us with a high standard of living, leaving us to pursue things we like to do. There will be a market for crafts and things that are hand built. There will be a resurgence of live theater and personal interactions. There will also be alternate virtual realities that people will prefer to spend most of their time in. It can be a time of wonders but to make it happen, we need to stop trying to make all of our students the same. This attempt to enforce similar outcomes on them is crazy and will ultimately fail. This is the fundamental guiding principle of public schooling which is why I have said you can’t reform it. It’s not broken, it’s just unsuited for the world awaiting us.
This is the stormfront of change sweeping towards us.
“Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they’re not tempted to think about any other role.” – William T. Harris, US Commissioner of Education, 1889