Sunday, March 2, 2014

16 Trends: #4 size and speed

Trend 4 is this:  technology will increase the speed of communication and the pace of advancement or decline.  Right at the start of the chapter on this trend is the amazing assertion that "80% of all the scientists who have ever lived in the history of humankind are alive today, and they are on the Internet."  I heard a similar statement from David Warlick this weekend that related to the spread of and access to knowledge - he said that he carries around in his back pocket the entire knowledge of the human race on his phone.  Technology is getting both smaller and faster and nanotechnology has been called the next revolution with a potentially huge effect on medicine, economic productivity and the earth's environment.

Let's take just one example.  On Thursday evening we hosted TEDxASB.  One of the presentations was a recording of Richard Resnick's talk about genome sequencing and its impact on healthcare. Today we can use gene sequencing as a diagnostic - and as a result we can expect to live longer.  Genetic modification will also allow us to grow more crops to feed this growing, longer living population.

Resnick talks about how in the future we will look back at cancer treatments and they will look like bloodletting. Craig Johnson, our Superintendent at ASB, took the same analogy and applied it to education - in the future will we look back at what we are doing in the classrooms today and be equally appalled?

There is also an ethical question here:  the technologies that can save and improve lives can also be used to destroy them.  The same technologies that can transfer information, can also be used to spread intolerance and hatred.  Schools have an important role to play in not only nurturing the future scientists who can develop the new technologies that our world needs, but also in promoting the digital ethics that our future world will need to use these technologies wisely and responsibly.

Photo Credit: Argonne National Laboratory via Compfight cc

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