Education in the 4th Industrial Age and beyond:

Education in the 4th Industrial Age and beyond:

Background : 

We are being hurled into the 4th Industrial Age, and to quote from the very first of the following resource list we are ‘sleepwalking’.

” We are sleepwalking- Government, Schools and Universities-into the biggest potential disaster of modern times ” : Sir Anthony  Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham

Professor David Deming at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has argued that the very skills prioritised by linear thinking Schools and Universities are precisely the ones that algorithms are able to perform much quicker, more profoundly and reliably than humans.

The items listed at number 2,3 and 4 are spoofs and satires of our education model at the School and University Level. The Parrot’s tale by Rabindranath Tagore is amazing, and because his literary achievements were so high, his contributions as an educator have been ignored. Even his exhortation On “ where the mind is without fear….. “ as a possible goal of education has been ignored. 

The 5th entry in this list of resources is an amazing book, published in 2018 by Anthony Seldon alludes to education as the Cinderella of the AI story, but holds out the promise of AI allowing everyone to have an Etinder or Wellington education. In our context, successful implementation of the personalisation possible with AI would permit a high quality IIT- like education for everybody to make them creative and innovative Complex Problem solvers ( which are the top success skills in the WEF report listed at no.17. As a consequence of the implementation of AI in education, there would be no need of reservation for a class of people in institutions created for limited capacities. There is a view that the Bengal famine of 1943 was a man made one, with available food not being allowed to the people of Bengal. 

The present crisis in education has also been created by denying access to vast amounts of knowledge and resources that are abundantly available, thereby creating an industry of coaching and test preparation, a completely perverted approach.

In this context the story of Ecole 42 at item 19 is a glimpse of the future, which of course the AICTE and other similar regulators will not permit in India. But as Sugata Mitra in his research on self-directed learning has demonstrated, more and more learners will follow a SOLE model for their continuous improvement and lifelong learning. 

The 42 in Ecole 42 has been inspired by Douglas Adams who wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.”

There should be a sense of urgency in preparing our youth for the future, which has been described in the 9th report listed here as an ‘avalanche’. We may call it a cyclone, a tsunami, an earthquake whatever metaphor we prefer, but we have to respond. Burying our head like an Ostrich is not an adequate response. Rather like the Giraffe we have to stretch our necks to see more of the emerging scene and then take a call.

In our cussedness to preserve the status quo of giving jobs to retired bureaucrats and fossilised educators, our actions are reminiscent of an anecdote attributed to the famous economist Milton Friedman, quoted below where he sarcastically and brutally draws attention to the real goal of a program ” building a canal or providing subsidised employment”.

This quotation is usually coupled with a colorful anecdote,and the details of the stories vary greatly. Here is an account from the economics writer Stephen Moore that was printed in the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Moore stated that he used to visit Milton Friedman and his wife, and together they would dine at a favorite Chinese restaurant:

At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Do we want to educate our youth or preserve the existing mostly irrelevant establishment ? The responsibility for the right path is upon the shoulders of the Independent Educator : the Teacherpreneur. This is the species that will most likely flourish in the future when the dinosaurs of the existing education system will become extinct.

The video listed at no.16 is a 15 minute video released in 2013, and most of its projections and predictions about the future are right. A very key statement there is “ Economics always wins.” The resources at no.17 and 18 list the skills for success in future. 

Here is a set of 21 resources that will help you formulate your own personalised strategy for preparing for the coming 4th Industrial Age and beyond. Please read on to appreciate what’s coming soon, and very near you:

1: The Digital Revolution : The impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on Employment and Education :

2. The Sabre Tooth Curriculum:

3: Every curriculum tells a story: The Dragon Slayer curriculum :

4: The Parrot’s tale by Ravindranath Tagore :

5: Anthony Seldon “ The 4th education revolution”: The Fourth Education Revolution: Will Artificial Intelligence liberate – Amazon UK › Fourth-Edu…

6: What’s worth learning in School?

7: Sir John Gurdon Nobel Prize winner was too stupid for Science at School :

8: Intelligence Unleashed: an argument for A.I. in education:

9: An avalanche is coming :

10: Keynote by Stephen Downes on the six major features of emerging online learning : available at

11: Teaching in the 4th Industrial Revolution: Teaching in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Armand Doucet, Jelmer … › Teaching-Fo…

12: Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution: part 1:

13: Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution: part 2:

14: Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution: part 3:

15: Graham Brown Martin :

16: Humans need not apply :

17: The top 10 skills that will land you high paying jobs by 2020:

18: The future of jobs report 2018:

19: A free teacherless University in France is schooling thousands of future-proof programmers:

20: Say Goodbye to Knowledge workers and welcome to learning workers :

21: The 5th Industrial Revolution: When It Will Happen and How:

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Mission 2020: Building a nation of lifelong learners:

Mission 2020: Building a nation of lifelong learners

In June 2000, the Planning Commission set up a committee to draw up a vision 2020, which report ( ) was published in December 2002. We have less time than what the committee had to face the real 2020. Just about one year. And we want to focus on one thing ‘The exponential rise of Machine Intelligence’. Our recommended response is lifelong learners. Our mission is to evangelise lifelong learning, create a community of fellow lifelong learners, and hope that this would sow the seeds for a nation of lifelong learners. If the one billion Indians decide to pursue lifelong learning and rational thinking, learning for even 15-30 minutes/day with their mobiles, we would leapfrog to a much better life.

Eric Hanushek in his book ‘The Knowledge Capital of Nations’ has done a rigorous, pathbreaking analysis demonstrating that a country’s prosperity is directly related in the long run to the skills of its population

We use a variety of devices to track our fitness and measure whether we achieved the target of 10,000 steps each day. Why not reflect over how many words did we read read or hear that added to our knowledge and understanding of the world?

For lifelong learning you need a similar commitment; a smartphone (perhaps AI enabled) and continued pursuit. Exercise releases endorphins and learning releases dopamine and together they can make you really happy. And you do know that if you act in ways that generate serotonin and oxytocin, you would become truly happy.

Isn’t that what we always wanted?

The year 2020 is just about a year away. This period is a period of very rapid (exponential change) and as Professor Klaus Schwab pointed out in January 2016 is the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution and era of the fusion of the Physical world (of atoms and energy), the information world ( of bits and qbits) and the biological world ( of genes and neurons).

As preparation for this, everyone will have to create their own plan for change and alignment to the future. Whether you are a young person just about 18 years of age, who is ‘coming of Age in the 4th Industrial Age’ or a young professional facing the ‘ Gig economy’ and want to get comfortable with ‘ Business 4.0’ or a young senior citizen planning a useful ‘next decade’ of your life, you have to create and follow your own path to your destiny.

This mission of lifelong learning delivered through Whatsapp on mobile phones helps you find your way.

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Mission 2020: Phase 1

During the year 2019, on one Sunday every month we have a session n the emerging technologies of the 4th Industrial Age. The venue is the WOODs at Greenwood City, Sector 46 Gurgaon. This is located opposite Unitech Cyber Park and between Vista Villas and Residency Greens. We begin at about 9:30 am and disperse around lunch.


Day – Date









1: Sunday

January 20th 2019

The Gig economy and its implications for education

Shashidhar Bhat




2: Sunday

February 24th 2019

The Brain-Computer Interface?

What it is and what it means for education

Ramesh C Sharma




3: Sunday

March 17th 2019

Blockchain: what it is and its implications for education?

Sanjay Sinha




4: Sunday

April 28th 2019

Internet of Things

Manish Kumar




5: Sunday

May 19th 2019

3D Printing

Avikshit Saras




6: Sunday

June 16th 2019

Applied AI and its use cases

Vishal Singhal




7: Sunday

July 21st 2019

Computational Thinking

Anupam Kaushik




8: Sunday

August 18th 2019

Teaching in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Dr Rajeev Tyagi




9: Sunday

September 15th 2019

Complex Problem Solving

J M Pant




10: Sunday

October 20th 2019

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing

Madhulika Kaushik




11: Sunday November 17th 2019

Implications for Artificial Intelligence for humans

Bhupesh Khatri




12: Sunday December 22nd 2019

Quantum Computing: its nature and future

MM Pant




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Braided Learning: a new metaphor for the AI age:

Braided learning: a new metaphor for education in the age of Artificial Intelligence: 

The mismatch between the outcomes of traditional education and the needs of the future is growing rapidly, and many acknowledge that new perspectives are needed. 

Learner centred education, Personalisation of learning, blended learning, learning styles and Heutagogy are all ideas that are being explored. 

In January 2016 Klaus Schwab of the world economic forum suggested that we are entering the 4th Industrial Age which is a fusion of the physical world, the information world and the biological world. The biggest strides that humanity will see will come from the alignment of the biology and information technologies.

I propose here a new metaphor for learning that is suitable for the future, driven by Artificial Intelligence and similar disruptive technologies. 

It is now broadly agreed that narrow specialists of the past ( who knew more and more about less and less) must give way to broad knowledge of a polymath. 

Instead of condemning the “ Jack of all trades but master of none” we are now seeking “ Jill’s of all trades and masters of some”. 

In the age of AI for any specialist knowledge we have solutions that surpass human abilities. But putting together several ideas and techniques into a common structure is the work of humans. 

This is what I am referring to as “ braided learning”. So instead of restricting a learner to 5 subjects at School level, 3 at Unuversity level and 1 at Masters level, a learner can continue to learn the whole spectrum of subjects available at School at all levels as a lifelong learner. 

So if each of the subjects Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, History, Geography, Languages, Civics, Economics, Psychology… a strand of knowledge then the value of this knowledge is not enhanced by tying these strands end to end ( concatenation) but by interweaving them ( braiding) to form a variety of possibilities that are much more valuable  in the coming VUCA ( volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. 

The depth of knowledge and understanding of a given subject may be represented as the thickness of the strand. 

Braids have been made for thousands of years in many different cultures around the world, and for a variety of uses. Traditionally, the materials used in braids have depended on the indigenous plants and animals available in the local area.

When the Industrial Revolution arrived, mechanized braiding equipment was invented to increase production. The braiding technique was used to make ropes with both natural and synthetic fibers, and coaxial cables for radios using copper wire. In more recent times it has been used to create a covering for fuel pipes in jet aircraft and ships, first using glass fibre, then stainless steel and Kevlar. Hoses for domestic plumbing are often covered with stainless steel braid.

Braids are often used figuratively to represent interweaving or combination, such as in, “He braided many different ideas into a new whole.”

Every learner, during the journey of lifelong learning would acquire a number of these strands through formal, informal and experiential learning. Instead of arguing which among these is most valuable and important, let each learner demonstrate his or her uniqueness by suitably braiding them to create a unique persona. 

The main strands:

  • Traditional academic disciplines ( Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Zoology, Botany, Economics, Politics, History, Geography, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Languages) 
  • Technology MegaTrends of the 4th Industrial Age ( Big Data, Blockchain, 3D printing, Internet of Things, Machine Learning) 
  • Learning ( learning how to learn, becoming a better learner, competence, comprehension, cognitive flexibility)
  • Thinking ( creative, critical and Computational)
  • Entrepreneurship ( Innovation, business and finance) 
  • Humanics ( values, ethics, grit, resilience,empathy, )
  • Making ( bricolage)
  • Questioneering ( curiosity)
  • Communication 
  • Philosophy 
  • Performing Arts ( Painting, Sculpture, Music, Dance) 

Lifelong Learners can create their own “ braids”

The most simple and common braid is a flat, solid, three-stranded structure. More complex braids can be constructed from an arbitrary number of strands to create a wider range of structures.

The phrase ‘braided learning’ has been proposed around the year 2007 in the context of emerging processes observed in an e-learning community, where people working in online social groups combine to answer a question or research issue posed. Rather than a homogenized report written in the official-sounding language, the resulting “braided” text comprises individual contributions reflecting each contributor’s unique perspective. 

No effort is made by the learners to develop the kind of overall style that formal reports or academic research documents would traditionally demand. 

Learning is immediate – online responses can be instant – but the knowledge can also be built up over time.

In this piece, I have used braided Learning as a metaphor and as a broad analogy for the learning models of the future.

But the Mathematical rigour of Braided topology is applied to the development of topological quantum computers where braids form the logic gates that make up the computer. Alexei Kitaev proposed topological quantum computation in 1997.

Here is a link to an article by the brilliant Physicist Max Tegmark famous for his books “ Life3.0” and “ Our Mathematical Universe” : 

Life is a braid in space time:

The opening lines of an article by JD Watson and FHC Crick in the issue of Nature dated 25th April 1953 begins with “ We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest. “ That idea marked the beginning of the “Biological Revolution.”    

Medicine changed fundamentally and led to  the development of therapies tailored to a patient’s genetic blueprint or by combining biology and technology with brain-controlled prosthetics. 

Perhaps in a few decades, the teaching-learning ecosystems would change to benefit from these ideas of Braided Learning and enable every individual to achieve his/her full potential and add value as a significant member of Society. 

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Promoting Public Understanding of Emerging Technologies:

Promoting Public Understanding of Emerging Technologies:

The 4th Industrial Age is upon us, and a clutch of different but inter-related technologies are developing at an exponential face. It is mind boggling to just notice what AI could do in 2017, that it couldn’t do in 2016. 

Although it is believed that it is the 3 wings of Governance, the executive, legislature and the judiciary that drive change with the press and media acting as the fourth pillar, the Reality is that continuous lifelong education of all four is the foundation. 

In the absence of a proper understanding, the path  ahead driven by the alignment among these 4 may not be the most suitable.  

A balance has to be maintained between the hype of the media and the financial investors with hyperbolic promises with any new ‘breakthrough’ that could be hyped and the understated modesty of the real researcher. 

See for example the opening sentence of the famous paper in Nature on April 25th 1953 in which the double helix structure of the DNA is announced.

“ We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleus acid ( DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.”

Towards the end of the paper they say:

“It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.”

JD Watson FHC Crick Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge  April 2

I have therefore decided to become an ‘ explainer’ for some of these emerging technologies from the beginning of the New Year and in readiness for the Year 2020. By the beginning of the year 2020, we should have been able to demystify around 10 technologies and by the end of the year 2020 another 10 should have been done.

The general plan ( may be tweaked as we go along) is to have an event with an average monthly frequency of a one hour public lecture with a title like “ Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence” …..or a suitable variant. The bye-products from this public lecture will be a booklet on the theme, a suite of short video clips of a few minutes each, and a Whatsapp delivered course that runs over a weekend.

We will continue to solicit ideas for both topics and formats of dissemination of the knowledge.

An illustrative list of emerging Technologies :

1: A survey of emerging Technologies and their tipping points 

2: Artificial Intelligence

3: Machine Learning

4: Deep Learning

5: Machine Learning Algorithms 

6: Artificial Neural Networks

7: AI and Robots

8: Drones

9: Swarm Robotics

10: Augmented Reality

11: Virtual Reality

12: Big Data

13: Blockchain

14: Digital Manufacturing / 3 D Printing

15: Internet of Things

16: Nano-technology 

17: Genetic Engineering: Genes, DNA and Gene editing with CRISPR

18: Immunotherapy

19: Crypto-currency

20: Quantum Computing

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Data Protection: an important balancing challenge

Data Protection: an important balancing challenge 

It is a general attribute of modern societies that all their members have a right to own property. In its earlier forms property was always tangible and either immovable ( lands and buildings) or movable ( cattle). With the Industrial Revolution, movable property could also mean cycles, cars or buses. As we evolved, the concept of ‘contractual property’ emerged such as shares and bonds. And of what are called ‘negotiable instruments’. And more recently we saw the legal acceptance of Intellectual Property in the form of Trademarks, Copyright and Patents. And a global regime like TRIPS as a framework to which national laws were aligned. We had to align ourselves to the new ‘product’ patent regime as opposed to our ‘process’ patenting regime, which was a formidable challenge to our Pharmaceutical industry. It was not only copyright violation that was clearly illegal, but the collateral of ‘plagiarism’ which is more a matter of ethics that became a concern, especially for academics with tools like ‘turnitin’. Software could now be patented in some jurisdictions, though not in India.

To regard ‘data’ as an entity that is bestowed with attributes such as ownership, that is rightful or unlawful and has to be regulated is a relatively recent phenomenon of about a few decades ago.

Probably UK was the first to have a formal law “ The UK data protection Act 1984” to deal with the matter. The Data Protection Act 1998 is the current UK law governing how the personal data of the country’s citizens is managed by any organisation, be it public or private, including charities.

After 20 years, UK data protection regulations are being updated with a new law, to make it more relevant to the way technology is used today and harmonise it with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that have come into force from Friday May 25th 2018. 

Personal data is any information relating to you, whether it relates to your private, professional, or public life. In the online environment, where vast amounts of personal data are shared and transferred around the globe instantaneously, it is increasingly difficult for people to maintain control of their personal information. This is where data protection comes in.

Data protection refers to the practices, safeguards, and rules put in place to protect your personal information and ensure that you remain in control of it. In short, you should be able to decide whether or not you want to share some information, who has access to it, for how long, for what reason, and be able to modify some of this information, and more.

Who owns data? Ownership involves determining rights and duties over property. The concept of data ownership is linked to one’s ability to exercise control over and limit the sharing of their own data. If one person records their observations on another person who owns those observations? The observer or the observed? What responsibilities do the observer and the observed have in relation to each other? 

There is also a growth in appreciation of “ data ethics” regarding undesirable handling of personal data, even if there is not a violation of the letter of the law. 

When you give your personal details to an organisation or individual, they have a duty to keep these details private and safe. This process is known as data protection. We refer to organisations or individuals who control the contents and use of your personal details as ‘data controllers’.

Many of us give information about ourselves to groups such as Government bodies, banks, insurance companies, medical professionals and telephone companies to use their services or meet certain conditions. Organisations or individuals can also get information about us from other sources. Under data protection law, you have rights regarding the use of these personal details and data controllers have certain responsibilities in how they handle this information.

But there is another principle that ‘private property’ may be coercively  and compulsorily acquired for a larger public purpose. This is how land is acquired for creation of educational Institutions, public hospitals or for building bullet trains. And private buses are requisitioned by the election commission in order to hold elections. Sometimes the stated ‘ public purpose’ may be questionable. 

By analogy, for reasons of national security, improved healthcare and other public good, the data of citizens may be compulsorily sought as in the Aadhar card. 

The balance between rights of individuals and national and social interest will evolve over time. 

Among many other questions that GDPR raises is of its impact on Machine learning in particular and data science in general. The short answer to this question is that, in practice, ML will not be prohibited in the EU after the GDPR goes into effect. 

It will, however, involve a significant compliance burden, which I’ll address shortly.

Technically, and misleadingly, however, the answer to this question actually appears to be yes, at least at first blush. 

The GDPR, as a matter of law, does contain a blanket prohibition on the use of automated decision-making, so long as that decision-making occurs without human intervention and produces significant effects on data subjects. 

In Chapter V of Ancient Law, Henry Sumner Maine characterizes the evolution towards progressive societies as a passage from status (an ascribed position) to contract (a voluntary stipulation).

In terms of the present age of Big Data, Machine Learning and learning algorithms, we might project that “ As societies progress, they move from authority to data”. 

Or articulated a bit differently from hierarchical human decision making to algorithmic decision making. 

If you want to know some more about data protection in different jurisdictions and the Implications of the European GDPR, you may join a FREE Whatsapp weekend learning course that will run on Saturday July 21st/Sunday July 22nd by following this link :

If this link does not work for any reason, please send a Whatsapp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724 or an e-mail to

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Become a lifelong learner:

Course announcement :

LAT13: Become a lifelong learner:

It is now almost universally accepted  that to succeed in the coming 4th Industrial Age driven by Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning, in the era of rapid change, it is crucial to become a lifelong learner. As part of our mission of lifelong learning, we are offering a number of weeklong, weekend and one day courses delivered through Whatsapp on mobile devices. This is the announcement for one of the weeklong  courses. There will be separate announcements for other courses.

Planned flow of posts from Monday morning:

From Monday 2nd July 2018 to Friday 6th July  2018

Day 1: Monday 2nd July  2018:

The importance of becoming a lifelong learner

1.1: @7 am : Why lifelong learning is so important now?

1.2: @10 am: UNESCO and World Bank on lifelong learning 

1.3: @1pm : Lifelong learning for career success

1.4: @4 pm: Lifelong learning in an era of increasing longevity 

1.5: @7pm: Well known and successful lifelong learners

Day 2: Tuesday 3rd July  2018:

Awaken the learner within

2.1: @7 am :The habit of reading: learning from literature 

2.2: @10 am: Knowing what to learn?

2.3: @1pm :Expanding the definition of learning

2.4: @4 pm:The characteristics of a lifelong learner

2.5: @7pm:Grit, perseverance and a growth mindset 

Day 3: Wednesday 4th July 2018

Steps to becoming a lifelong learner

3.1: @7am: Become a more curious person. Ask questions.

3.2: @10 am :The do’s of lifelong learning

3.3: @1 pm: The  don’ts for lifelong learning

3.4: @4 pm:The journey to lifelong learning

3.5: @7pm:The future of work

Day 4: Thursday 5th  July 2018

Improving your lifelong learning abilities

4.1: @7 am :What is worth Learning?

4.2: @10 am: Learning at different stages of life

4.3: @1pm :Applying what you learn

4.4: @4 pm:The Feynman technique for learning 

4.5: @7pm:Making learning stick

Day 5: Friday 6th July  2018

How to learn anything?

5.1: @7 am :Learning how to learn

5.2: @10 am: Strategy and Plan for learning anything new

5.3: @1pm :Learning resources on the Internet

5.4: @4 pm:Using YouTube for learning

5.5: @7pm:Learning from Apps and MOOCs


To register for this course :

First pay the fee { of Rs 2500/- + GST @ 18% Rs450/-= Rs 2950/-} by PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : 9810073724). 

Then send a Whatsapp message to MM Pant ( 9810073724) with the following information :

1: Your Name : First and Last

2: Mobile phone number linked to Whatsapp 

3: Course Code and course name. The code for this course is LAT13 and the course name is “ Become a lifelong learner”.

4: PayTM transaction number/ screenshot

5: Your brief profile ( optional)

If you would rather pay to a Bank through electronic transfer, then the required information is : Madan Mohan Pant, HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

A/c 26451000000301


In this case send the Whatsapp message with the Bank transaction details instead of the PayTM information. 


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