Coming of age in the 4th Industrial Age ( the age of Artificial Intelligence)

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 :

Class 9th:

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

9: Creativity

10: Emotional Intelligence

11: Developing Foresight


Class 10th:

1: Computational Thinking

2: Linear Algebra

3: Probability and Statistics

4: Python libraries and their usage

5: Computer vision

6: Entrepreneurship

7: Financial acumen

8: Negotiation

9: Critical Thinking

10: Big History : evolution and extinctions


Class 11th:

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 : 

1: Algorithms

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. 

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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