Keynote Speech: “Education Beyond the Machine Age”

On April 17, 2014, I was invited by Jan Matern and Volker Hirsch to give the opening remarks at the Demo Day for a half dozen startup ventures incubated by the Emerge Education program. As I prepared for this talk, it became clear to me that there is great urgency in the project of rethinking education for the 21st Century. Innovation in education systems tends to occur rather slowly, at the stately pace of big government institutions. But innovation in the economy is happening at a rapid clip, and by some measures it is accelerating. In particular, technologies that will displace workers (robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, virtualization, remote communication, telepresence, collaboration) are improving much faster than the economy can create new jobs. And so there is a race happening: it’s a race between education and automation. Can we reinvent our 19th century education system fast enough to produce citizen scientists, entrepreneurs and empowered employees who are prepared for a job market that will be reshaped by robotics? I believe that incubators like Emerge Education hold the key to rapid innovation.