Astonishing Predictions About The Future Of Technology Should Inspire Big Changes To Schools And To Our Democracy

Ray Kurzweil writes, “The future will be far more surprising than most observers realize.” Computer speed (per unit cost) doubles every year. Kurzweil believes this doubling of machine power will continue and that in thirty years computer power will be one billion times greater than now. He is predicting that by the year 2045, a machine intelligence much greater than human intelligence will emerge. This watershed event in human history is called the singularity.


Exponential growth eventually causes dramatic and sudden change. If a full glass represent the singularity, the glass now is only one-billionth full.  Thirty doublings, over a thirty year period, will result in a billion-fold increase. The last few years will be astonishing.  The glass will be one-thirtysecondth full, then one-sixteenth full, then one-eighth full, one-fourth, one-half, then, full. This century, according to Kurzweil, will have 20,000 years of progress compared to the progress of the last century. Science fiction predictions set hundreds of years in the future will instead become reality in the lives of today’s children.

We should not delay in preparing for the huge shock we are headed toward. If there was evidence that a epoch-ending meteor was due to hit earth in thirty years, there would be a huge amount of money and effort invested to create a plan to protect the inhabitants of the earth from this potential calamity. We would be crazy to wait until the last few years to get serious about preparation.

There is plenty of evidence that the rapid growth of technology is leading to a future that may either be very good or very bad — depending on the quality of the preparation for this future. The two interconnected ways to prepare for the future both focus on:  1) Education  2) Cooperative planning. The cooperative planning and problem solving that is needed to prepare for the future requires for humans to acquire in-depth understanding and judgment. It requires an educated citizenry prepared for meaningful civic engagement. It requires a vitalization of our constitutional democracy so that our best ideas and best leaders gain authority.

To prepare for the future, we need to put money and effort into transforming our system of public education so that it will prepare a citizenry for meaningful civic engagement. The growth in machine intelligence eventually will force the public to consider these two questions: 1) How should the purpose of public education be defined? and 2) How should a system of public education be structured to most effectively accomplish that purpose?  Perceptive communities will anticipate this debate well in advance of the big crunch coming our way.

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One Response to Astonishing Predictions About The Future Of Technology Should Inspire Big Changes To Schools And To Our Democracy

  1. Chet Bauch says:

    HI MIKE: Good to hear from you.
    Warm regards, CHET

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