Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bill Ford at the Detroit Economic Club: A Perspective on the Future

October 31 was not only Halloween, it was a day on which Bill Ford was the speaker at the Detroit Economic Club luncheon meeting.  Beth Chappell delivered great questions to Bill and he responded on topics including autonomous vehicles, Amazon’s look at Detroit as a new headquarters, Detroit’s new spirit, Ford’s competitiveness and their position in the automotive market.

Here is a link to the video of the extended interview if you would like to see it Bill Ford at Detroit Economic Club.  Bill’s comments were constructive and particularly positive relative to Ford’s efforts in the personal transportation marketplace.  Would we have expected any less? Compelling comments though, and most striking to me, his view that the market is not about the tech which can be designed into the car, it is about people’s needs for transportation.  He spoke about how people in some areas of the world have far different needs than those of us here in Detroit or Chicago or less urban areas of the U.S.  Creating vehicles with the right technology to address these many human needs is the right challenge. 

Admittedly, I started thinking about the public transit challenge we seem to have in the Detroit area.  As a student of the autonomous vehicle technology and one who is working with some of the players bringing it to reality, there is a great facilitation challenge I would like to work.  The challenge would be to have the right people in the room to address the evolution of the autonomous vehicle tech, as a solution to the many stories about how long it takes someone using public transport to get to or from a job.  That would be a great and meaningful discussion.   

I have every confidence there will be a solution available for this in the next five years.  It should be very possible to have customized routes depending on who is looking for a ride and where they are going.  I would like to know if SMART or DDOT is working on this – if you know, please send me a note  If you are creating this solution, come and talk to us at Innovate Farmington!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Aria at 20

My Granddaughter just turned TWO!!  What will her world be like to learn in, to live in and to work in by the time she is 20?
I hope she will be fully prepared to begin a career matching her interests and aptitude.  She will have been able to test herself through her life experiences and education.  Whether she and the young people of her generation decide to be an engineer, a scientist, an artist, a programmer, a drone operator, a manufacturing technician or one of the other great opportunities which will exist, she will be educated and fully ready for her entry to the workforce.   

She is likely to have had a full array of learning technologies deployed in K to 12, in our universities and in our homes. These will provide for a much greater understanding, exposure and connection with work and life.  Let's all hope these technologies do not become so immersive that they substitute for or overcome our person-to-person relationships.  They need to be engaging, active and challenging for our young people, just as they need to be for those of us who are older.  They will fit us, our learning styles, draw on our strengths and address our weaknesses.  We are just beginning to see how personal and wearable technologies can enhance learning, engagement and experience.  Over the course of the next 18 years (while Aria is going through her prime years for education), the brain research and resulting technical developments will be enormous. 
We may well see true leaps and bounds in the acquisition of languages, in the ease of understanding of scientific disciplines, mathematics, human and animal psychology that are well beyond our imagination today.  Today we can play with apps like Luminosity, Star Walk, Wolfram Alpha, Elevate and many more.  How will applications like these become more integrated into our structured education process to increase our human potential?  Fun to consider.
What will this cost?  What would university education look like for Aria?  How will public education embrace these new possibilities?  And what about cars?  Check in on our next note.

What about cars?

The autonomous vehicle or self driving car is not far off.  With Aria at age 2, how long will she have to wait until she has her first ride in a self driven car?  Likely within 5 to ten years, so she will be 7 to 12 years old.  Will that car take her to school or over to a friends house or to a field trip?  Will it be a small bus loaded with other students?  

How will driverless cars change the learning environment.  What a question!  More flexibility on where you learn.  Less dependence on parents.  Less dependence on adults.  Less opportunity for parents to be involved?  Driving my kids around was opportunity for discussion around what was happening in school and in their lives.  Wow, what a change!

The Cost of Education

So in a world where we can look the best answer up on line, or even the best instructor, how will college courses be taught?  If the best math instructor in the world is in India, will he or she record their lectures or talks for Aria to watch?  Will they be interactive?  Of course.  What will the impact be on the jobs of the local professors at our regional schools.  Dramatic!  The competition by instructors to be the best, to offer the best products will likely be intense.  Many may become facilitators of the learning experience.  Will professors grade papers or will the computerized learning system handle all the feedback and evaluation.

Since there are so many jobs in today's teaching environment, what will be the impact of going to  an online academy to take the best course available?  Will all the local teaching jobs be gone?  The cost to society will be immense in that case.  What would the local university teaching role be in an environment where we can study a topic from the greatest expert or the most engaging teacher in the world?  

The cost of the course . . would be based on what we pay the instructor right?  Plus the cost of the technology to deliver the learning.  Let's assume the cost of the tech is nominal . . . the cost of an iPad or a good smart phone.  So if the best instructor demands $1,000,000 to be recorded delivering their class, for one student the cost would be $1,000,000.  But what if one million students take the class?  The cost is now $1.  

What is the cost of the loss of all the educator jobs in today's system?  Enormous.  Do they become learning facilitators, programmers, proctors, coaches, translators?