Coming of age in the 4th Industrial Age ( the age of Artificial Intelligence):
We are at the intersection of two major revolutions: ‘the 4th Industrial Revolution’ ( a phrase suggested by Prof Klaus Schwab at the 2016 World Economic Forum at Davos) driven by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Quantum Computing and allied technologies like the Internet of Things, Blockchain, 3D Printing, AR and VR, and ‘the 4th education revolution’ ( proposed by Prof Anthony Seldon in a 2018 book with the same title) propelled by the same technologies which is disrupting the traditional education model.
Children who are studying in School today will be adults ready for further education or to play their role in changing the world in the years from 2020 to 2030 and beyond. The Indian educational system and policies in their Ostrich like attitude ignore these disruptive changes, though thought leaders elsewhere in the world are beginning to take notice.
Barack Obama in his 2010 State of the Union address had said “ In the 21st Century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education”. This program is a small step towards such a mission.
Sir Ken Robinson in a TED talk in February 2010 refers to the need to transform education. Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!
In support of his viewpoint Sir Ken quotes a speech made by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war in the 1860s.
Lincoln said, ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the striving present, the occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new so we need to think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we can save our country.’
Building on Lincoln’s speech and relating it to the crisis in education Sir Ken said there are ideas about schooling we take for granted.
Such ideas were suited to a previous century but our minds are still captured by them. We need to ‘disenthrall ourselves of them. This, he said, is easier said than done because ‘it is very difficult to know what you take for granted the reason being we take them for granted’.
In the decade since Sir Ken’s TED talk and Obama’s state of the Union address, amazing progress has happened in the fields of neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, which make these ideals actually capable of being implemented on a large scale.
Engineering education was in place well before the creation of IITs in the 1960s.
From College of Engineering Guindy established in 1794, Thomason College of Engineering that was established in 1847, to JNTU College of Engineering in 1946, there were about 27 engineering colleges even before independence, But IITs transformed engineers who worked with slide rules to those who were problem solvers with cognitive flexibility using computers of the day and some of them are leaders today in the Silicon Valley of trillion dollar companies.
In my view, the IITs had as their input bright students just out of Senior Secondary School and over 4 years transformed them to future ready professionals.
In this age of mobile phones, cloud services, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, we can raise the autonomous learning power, problem solving abilities, entrepreneurial dispositions, cognitive flexibilities and future readiness to be equipped to fulfil their aspirations in the rapidly changing innovation economy by pursuing lifelong learning to suit their needs.
School, especially the last 4 years of School will be of greatest importance in the learning journey.
This is a program directed at the young (both boys and girls) who are coming of age (turning 18) in the years to come. We are aiming at the age group of 18+-2, that is from 16 years to 20 years.
This is about the same age group that pursues the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, the A levels and the Senior Secondary stage of the CBSE and other State Boards. Younger persons may not be able to benefit from the program, although students in post-secondary courses (general BA, BSc, BCom or Professional courses such as Engineering, Medicine or Law) would find this program helpful in preparing them for their future. There is really no upper age limit for an enquiring mind with the disposition of a life-long learner.
We have a suggested sequence where learners who begin in class 9 pursue one cluster over a month, and cover the whole set of 42 modules by the time the student would normally pass class 12.
The pool and sequence of course titles :
1: Learning How to Learn
2: The landscape of emerging technologies
3: Basics of Artificial Intelligence
4: Introductory Python
5: Fostering a Mathematical mindset
6: Data: a many splendoured thing
7: Finding your element
8: The significance of ethics
10: Emotional Intelligence
11: Developing Foresight
1: Computational Thinking
2: Linear Algebra
3: Probability and Statistics
4: Python libraries and their usage
5: Computer vision
7: Financial acumen
9: Critical Thinking
10: Big History : evolution and extinctions
1: Mathematical Modelling
2: Multivariate Calculus
3: Topology : moving beyond geometry
4: Key concepts in Computing
5: Understanding the Quantum World
6: Effective decision making
7: Health Literacy : Preparing for a 100 year life
8: Modern approach to Biology
9: People management: co-ordinating with others
10: Design Thinking
11: Developing a personal action plan
Class 12th :
2: Machine learning algorithms
3: Artificial Neural Networks and Deep Learning
4: Deep Learning applications
5: Quantum Computing : its nature and future
6: Service Orientation
7: Complex Problem Solving
8: Cognitive Flexibility
9: Cultural awareness and sensitivity.
10: The future of work
Those who are already in tertiary education could suitably spread their learning to align with the progress in their formal education.
While we have suggested a sequence to be followed, we expect that over time, students may express their interest in following a sequence that they are happier to follow.
In the early years of the IITs, students were admitted after passing class 11 itself and went through a 5 year program. If there is sufficient interest in students of Class 8, in pursuing a future readiness program, we could add a suitable pool of courses designed for them which will build stronger foundations.