A.I. is Coming and Why You Should Care

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. (Malcom Gladwell) That is what is about to happen with A.I. – Artificial Intelligence. We have heard about the advent of A.I. for years, but it lived more in the world of science fiction, rather than reality.  That has all changed, and it is poised to cause major disruption in our lives, and in the economy. Over the next ten years, A.I., along with robots, will increasingly replace people with technical skills. And while robots have long since disrupted the industrial age production line, leaving thousands of blue collar workers out of jobs, A.I. and new generations of robots are about to do the same for many white collar jobs.

Over the past several months I have read many articles about A.I.; the technology exists now, and more and more software will be able to write software, and automation will be able to oversee automation. As self-made billionaire Mark Cuban said this week, “I would not want to be a CPA right now. I would not want to be an accountant right now. I would rather be a philosophy major.”

A.I. is going to impact offices, managers, financial analysts, the medical world, how businesses operate, and even how you shop.

A.I. is already being used by human resource firms to better assess a candidate’s strengths, talents and interests. And A.I. is being tested to diagnose illnesses. In one study, A.I. could diagnose pulmonary hypertension better than cardiologists typically do. Cardiologists have about 60% accuracy. The A.I. system has an 80% accuracy.

What does this mean? In one study, it is believed that technology will make many current jobs obsolete. An Oxford University study suggests that 47% of jobs in the United States will be threatened by automation in the next 20 years.

Why should you care about A.I. and the disruption it will cause? Because it will impact your children. The tipping point is when the disruption occurs. More often than not, people and industries do not see it coming, even when all of the indications are there. Mainframe computer manufacturers did not see Apple coming or recognize the impact of the personal computer. Manufacturers and repairmen of televisions and radios operated by vacuum tubes did not see transistors coming – eliminating an entire industry. The decline of Sam Goody’s and Blockbuster are other examples of the impact of major disruptions.

The workforce will be very different by the time your children graduate college. Perhaps up to 50% of the workforce will be doing some sort of short-term, freelance work as opposed to traditional 9-5 jobs. I have read similar reports that indicate half of the work force will be consultants.  The reality is, we are still in a period of exponential change, and we do not know what jobs will exist and what specific skills will be needed.

And that is why the current educational system is out of date and out of sync.  I have been writing about this for a long time and I my voice is only one of many passionate, like-minded voices arguing for systemic educational change in our country for the sake of our children living in this exciting century.  

Universities and business leaders agree that the skills students need today and to be prepared for an unknowable future are different than those of the 20th century. And yet, in general, schools resist change. More disturbingly, policy makers who impose rules and standards on schools, and parents who are not informed, resist change to the detriment of our children.

But not everywhere! There are countries around the world changing their entire educational system to prepare their children for this century and its ever-changing economy. Sadly, not in the United States. The good news is that independent schools, like Hillel, and forward thinking public school districts in supportive communities are making much needed change.

Transformative change at schools with pre-existing mind-sets and cultures is very difficult to achieve. It’s easier to create a new school than to change an old one. While we do not have the luxury to start over, as we approach our 60th year, we are tenacious and determined to implement the systemic change necessary to create an environment where children can thrive and engage in the learning that is crucial for their future. We continue to work tirelessly to create a learning environment where students can truly become deep, curious, and flexible learners. Continuous learning, adaptability and curiosity will be the essential skills of the future along with creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A.I. is here – the world will be different when your children graduate college. They deserve to be ready.

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