“What is more important than learning? The desire to learn.”
This book is a collection of distinct essays that explore the future of education, the role of computers, and the nature of consciousness, with particular attention paid to the role artificial intelligence will play in our school and other learning outlets.
We are witnessing an informational tsunami the likes of which is completely unprecedented in human history. The digital revolution is such that almost every aspect of our lives is being upended. Who could have imagined just two decades ago that the vast majority of us would check our smart phones on average 150 times a day or more? Or, that young people worldwide would consciously choose to spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer monitor playing never ending games of Minecraft? The great disruptor of the 21st century is our attention span and the Internet and computational technologies have opened up a Pandora’s box of endless distractions. We are not merely entertaining ourselves to death (to echo Neil Postman’s prophetic words), we are becoming entertainment ourselves as we moment to moment reveal our innermost selves on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and new emerging forms of social media.
What all this will eventually portend nobody precisely knows, except that Ray Kurzweil’s outlandish idea of a Singularity in 2045 doesn’t look so outlandish anymore. We are on the edge of a digital precipice and where we will fall appears to have no bottom. We are about to enter a virtual wonderland where what is human and what is artificial will no longer have distinct boundaries. This book is but a partial glimpse of that event horizon which like the black hole it encompasses will eventually swallow up everything in its perimeter. Either we consciously prepare for that eventuality and exert some control about its direction or else we will be powerless slaves to its manifold attractions. There is price to be paid for the liberation of information without boundaries and as a human species we seem unprepared for where this ultimate journey will take us. We are it seems destined to either become absorbed by all things A.I. or conscious cyborgs who partake of the best that technology offers melding it with our humanity. In sum, we are at an evolutionary crossroads and the decisions we make know will predetermine (perhaps unalterably) how we will live and operate in an increasingly cyber dependent universe.