Let’s go way back to 1977 and Fleetwood Mac’s single, “Don’t Stop.”
“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be here, better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”
In our modern world, tomorrows stretch before us in profusion. Our working lives could last for eight decades. Think of the implications. It was only 12 years ago that the first iPhone was released. Smartphones are everywhere now, and we rely on them to an astonishing degree. Think about what new technologies may emerge over another 70 years!
No longer can we simply learn for a while, earn for a while, and then retire.
The current revolution is just like previous revolutions where jobs were destroyed and new jobs were created. To survive in a world where people are living longer and working longer, a habit of lifelong learning will become an essential survival skill. We must become a Lifelong Learning Economy!
The Internet has a role to play in this transformation. Where I might Google for answers, teens turn to YouTube to watch “how-to” videos. Not long ago, the hottest new educational gambit was the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Tens of thousands could sign up for a course, dramatically reducing the cost per person. Some universities inverted the usual classroom practice. Students participated in the MOOC from home and came to class to learn how to solve problems together. While this concept was once vastly over-hyped, what has emerged is a self-paced, lower cost, effective curriculum. Georgia Tech has pioneered online computer science and engineering degrees at a fraction of the cost of in-residence learning.
Here is a small sample of the member universities of the MOOC providersedX and Coursera...
Steve Case calls it the Third Wave. Others call it the fourth industrial revolution. Whatever we call it, the new jobs it creates will require new skills and new learning. Someone will have to program the billions of devices of the Internet of Things. Someone will have to re-program them when bugs are found. Someone else will have to install and configure them. Others will make them. And still, more will invent new ways to use programmed devices, to outfit them with new AI capabilities. We are entering the endless world of software, where anything that you can program is possible.
It is very important to recognize that the people whose jobs evaporate, because of AI or automation or invention in general, may not be prepared to do the newly created jobs unless they get retraining… again and again.
We really need to build this notion of learning over the course of a career into our thinking. Longer working lives will demand that we learn to stay relevant. Come to think of it, living longer, period demands that we learn new things. It's a survival skill! This must become the norm in our society. "Don't stop learning about tomorrow. Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone."
Vint Cerf Ph,D., contributor, is the co-inventor of the Internet and VP and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. Dr. Cerf's awards include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.