Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future

Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future
Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future

Here we are, one month into 2018. While each year we individually turn a page, it is sometimes hard to recognize the gradual evolution of society. We now have a large, young demographic increasingly assuming leadership roles, and a more diverse and open-minded population struggling to find its way amidst a political push for a more traditional social infrastructure. Social shifts are not rocket science; they are a pendulum swing that we have seen many times before.

The generational pendulum is swinging

What makes it different now is that the Baby Boomers were a big generation, X'ers are small, and Millennials are the biggest with Gen Z on track to be even bigger. The big-small-big-small generational pattern is being disrupted. I believe that rather than the pendulum swinging back and forth with each generation as it has in the past, it will now start to swing a wider path.

This will lead to more extremes that are both positive and negative. Millennial idealism will push a multicultural and border-less vision that will generate increasing pushback from boomers. But the younger voice will prevail to a degree where optimism may actually overshadow wisdom and nostalgia. They may, in fact, organically defeat most social injustices. On the other hand, radical ideology in all forms may escalate in opposition. We could see an increase in terrorism and racial divides, both nationally and abroad.

Changes in technology and the job market are coming

Technology and Artificial Intelligence are going to have an increased presence in our lives in 2018. The traditional job market in the short and midterm will consequently shrink. Entrepreneurial opportunities will blossom for those broadminded enough to recognize them.

A shrinking job market will work against the current USP (unique selling proposition) of education—"College and Career Ready." We must embrace the opportunity to find applications for newly available human capital. Let's figure out how to effectively teach entrepreneurship and innovation, which I believe means embracing a liberal arts education.

Education's responsibility in 2018 and beyond

The combination of all these forces gives education its greatest opportunity to positively impact the world. It must ramp up a proactive stance in 2018. Educators must prepare and empower students to create a more peaceful society. Particularly by teaching them data triangulation in order to eliminate the existence of destructive players like "fake news." Students must be taught to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities and capitalize on them in order to make peace profitable. The only thing standing in the way of world peace is war profiteering.

The most visible shift we will see in education during 2018 and beyond is the domination of the millennial generation and the impact they will have. Millennials will increasingly become parents, school board members, administrators, policymakers, and teachers.

The current teacher shortage must also be sufficiently addressed in 2018. We cannot simply expect cash-strapped millennials who want to make a difference but are saddled with student debt to all of a sudden find fulfillment in education. Society continues to undervalue educators. We seem to have a national anti-intellectual movement that surely will not help make America great again. We have a loud voice in America that effectively screams, “If you take away our guns, you take away our freedom.” In 2018, I’d like to hear an even louder voice scream, “If you take away our public education, you take away our freedom.”

Conclusion

I believe in Millennials, and believe the increasing impact they will have on education and society will be positive overall. Their proclivity for entrepreneurship and desire to have a positive and meaningful impact on the world will yield great results if the rest of us do one of two things: support their initiatives or simply get out of their way.

Happy New Year!

What are the human transactions of the future?

I am really looking forward to keynoting the All Ohio Counselors Conference next week—a combined audience of career and mental health counselors, helping our youth navigate an increasingly complicated world.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence and technology on the job market is going to change the careers available to graduates and transform the way we interact. With a predicted 38% of today's jobs being automated in 10-15 years, we must consider that human exchanges revolving around goods and services may no longer be the norm.

What are the transactions of the future? I believe we will have a cultural economy—an exchange of cultural values and activities that form the basis of human interaction and the advancement of society. However, with globalization comes cultural dilution, and therein lies a conundrum that educators and counselors must address. Otherwise, we risk devolving into animal instincts and survivalist mentalities.

Combining the idealism of the Millennial generation with their size, which will be followed by the equally large and idealistic Gen Z, we now have the opportunity to naturally grow out of many of society's greatest injustices. However, that will require Baby Boomers to quietly hang onto their baggage and not unload it onto the Millennials. The generation that grew up with segregation being the norm must not inadvertently pollute the generation that grew up with Obama being the norm. If that happens, our noble efforts to extinguish implicit biases will only result in perpetuating them.

Get Monthly Blog with News & Tour Dates

Opt-out anytime

To book a keynote, please contact: info@RaviUnites.com or 1-202-838-7088

A “Baby Boomer Baggage” Election

The votes are in, we have a new President-Elect, and the country is in a bit of a tailspin.  Whether or not one agrees with the result, polls show that baby-boomers gave Donald Trump the most powerful position in the world. Had the millennials come out in droves (less than half voted, representing 19% of the total vote), it is reasonable to assume the results would have been different.  This was a strategic miscalculation—or lack of calculation—on the part of the world’s largest generation, because their disaffection toward both candidates and the election itself produced a result that has many protesting in the streets (much like Brexit).

Instead of making their voices heard, the millennials let the baby boomers cast votes while looking in the rear view mirror.  “Make America Great Again” is a powerful slogan, but many policies surrounding it are regressive.  Much of what made America great before does not have the same relevance today.  Most jobs are not going to come back, and those that do are likely not ones that deliver a return on the education investment millennials have made…plus, those jobs will soon anyway be outsourced to technology and artificial intelligence.  Moreover, building walls are not consistent with the millennials’ desire to build bridges, and religious resurgence is unlikely to be embraced by the most secular generation we’ve ever seen.  And as far as education policy goes, what policy?  We have heard the least about this—the true engine behind making America great again.

By nature, the older we get, the more we find comfort in nostalgia and the more we fear change.  However, nostalgia is not something you learn; like wisdom, it is something you earn.  But that is about the only thing nostalgia and wisdom have in common.

The Future of Education

As four-year university education in America continues to push people into debt without delivering real world value, market forces will put the power of educating in the hands of the student (i.e. customer). For educators, the primary role will be to promote a thirst for knowledge and a blueprint for learning, as the students of tomorrow will drink from the bottomless well of information available in the palms of their hands. I look forward to the future of education.

Institutional brands of education will give way to relevant knowledge regardless of its origin, though that origin may very well be community colleges where vocational training prevails and costs are kept in check.  However, for the sake of innovation, entrepreneurship, and the economy, we cannot not just prepare students for the jobs of today.  We must also prepare them to create the jobs of tomorrow.  This requires integrating a liberal education into today’s two-year programs, which includes experiential and peer-to-peer learning that will also develop “soft skills.”

The arts must also come back into focus. The current buzz around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) brings many good skills to the surface, but suppresses perhaps the most “critical.” STEAM is more important, because without the arts, we suppress critical thinking as well as stifle creativity and empathy…the ingredients of innovation and leadership. This may very well be by design, but it isn’t going to do society any good in the long run.

The Millennial Conundrum

Millennials live in a dichotomy.  Much of what they desire is the consequence of what they were not given, and this places their interests in disharmony with their strengths.  Surveys report that music is the millennial generation’s number one priority, yet they have witnessed the arts being devalued in public education throughout their entire lives.  Broken promises of employment and job security makes them crave entrepreneurship while standardized testing and government mandated curriculum have arguably educated them out of creativity.  Millennials want to change the world but have grown up in a society where corruption (government, wall street, and charity) has produced a high number of disaffected youth.

Do millennials feel entitled to succeed?  Certainly.  Many have been told since pre-school that they are on a track to Harvard.  Moreover, “earning” ribbons and trophies simply for participation has removed possible failure from the equation, negating the value of taking risks.

Ultimately, millennials want to be defined by their passions, not their careers.  “Who you are” as opposed to “what you do” is paramount.  However, they have been kept so preoccupied by helicopter parents needing to procure the family brand that most millennials have never been bored enough to discover their true passion in the first place.

Millennial Mojo

Millennials are not to be ignored. 15-35 year olds are the largest generation and in two years will outspend baby boomers. Business looks bright for those embracing millennial culture. Engaging and retaining millennial customers, students, and employees has more to do with empathy than reacting to polls and statistics. The same core values pervade each generation, but recognizing modern representations of those values empowers one to understand millennial psyche and positively influence their actions. While they broadcast their “likes” on Facebook, it is less about narcissism than it is about bonding with like-minded people–not unlike wearing your favorite sports team jersey or rock band t-shirt.  Their diminishing interest in religion, advertising, and political rhetoric is a quest for transparency–something that has evaded them most of their lives. By bridging the gap between baby boomers and millennials, both can maintain their principals while finding common ground in which they can excel together.

Minimum Wage and Outsourcing Jobs to Technology

Many argue that raising the minimum wage will encourage outsourcing of jobs to technology (i.e. menu  kiosks in McDonalds), but I contend that there is no connection between the two.   Wages will never influence technology implementation if it adds value and efficiency, or simply doesn’t detract from it.  The cost of automation will continue to decline while cost of living increases; most trades will eventually be automated.

Rather than try to stop such uses of technology, we should encourage it. That frees more people to do what technology can’t—invent, create, and generate ingenuity—but only if we provide the tool for them to do so, which is a good liberal arts education. This is the key to jobs: education that fosters critical thinking which includes the arts and favoring STEAM over STEM (Science Technology, Engineering,  *Arts, and Math).

Let’s not dumb down America or technology to keep jobs.  Let’s educate America to create more, and ones that move us forward.