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Life Long Learning

Life Long Learning

In my last post, I mentioned that five years from now, a job as a programmer may not be a good job because everything mathematical and logic related is being automated. But I forgot to mention that even though programming knowledge may not get you a good job, you will still need to learn it. It could become the fourth "R" - arithmetic, reading, writing, and programming. You have to know how to write even though you won't become a writer or editor. You have to know some math, even though you won't become a mathematician. So I think the same will apply to coding: it will become necessary to know in order to be hired (if there's such a thing under the new world).

Right now I'm reading Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman as well as Mindware by Richard Nisbett. The first book talks about how we are undergoing change at an incredible accelerating pace. I presume that at the end the author will talk about how to survive this change and I believe one of the things he will offer up is lifelong learning. The second books talks about how to think critically which I think will be important in this age of "fake news".

This short post will focus on lifelong learning.

I do believe we are going to have to do lifelong learning because the world will be changing so much so rapidly. But there are a couple of hurdles:

  1. I hate to say it but time is an issue. A lot of companies are still under the influence of the work ethic of long hours. So some companies will ask a lot of hours out of you but will provide no real growth opportunity. In the last twenty years, the shareholder value mantra has meant continuing cuts to worker training or education, to the point where it's up to the employee to do it himself. If he can find time. Then add the fact that there is the commute time, the need for exercise, the need for networking, time to take care of family, time to cook good food and time for sufficient sleep. Companies will need to cut back on the hours. But then, maybe companies won't be hiring people, so maybe we will finally have the time for learning.
  2. Then there's the issue of money. As people make less money, it gets harder to fund one's own education. College is exceeding difficult now and may be out of most families' budgets. Education needs to be affordable.
  3. Then there's the question of what to study. What will one be able to do in the future? Right now it's not clear what jobs will be viable and good paying.
  4. Even if there are some new kinds of jobs in the future that are good paying, will most people be able to do them? It's popular now to advise everyone to go into STEM but not everybody is cut out for these kinds of jobs. Not everybody can do engineering. As a matter of fact, I would say, not many. And probably software will be doing most of the heavy lifting. So what might remain for humans is the genius level kind of positions. And I wonder if average IQ will still be dumb in this new future.

So I will have to finish the book to see what Thomas Friedman offers up. I hope it's better than the AmeriCorps suggestion by Mark Cuban.

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