Internet and Computers, A Game Changer – AI, Robotics, BioTech, and NanoTech Are Next

It has often been said that he who controls the media, controls the minds of the people. The printing press gave an advantage to those who used it. Today, those who control the information have almost unlimited abilities to control and capitalize on that information. Thus, information technology has been a game changer in nearly every sector sense its arrival. The era of big data is now the changer of the game. Okay so, who owns the future in the next period?

Well, let me take a stab at it, but first to catch you up to speed on this topic, why not read this book below:

“Who Owns The Future?” by Jaron Lanier, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2013, 416 pages, ISBN: 978-145-16549-67. Also the author of “You Are Not a Gadget” which was one of his earlier books, published by Vintage Press, 240 pages, 2011, ISBN: 978-030-738997-8.

The author works now for Microsoft Research, prior he’s had stints working with all sorts of corporations which use information to drive sales – he’s worked with algorithms for high-frequency trading, and sophisticated computers for insurance companies determining risk analyzing all the big data at their disposal. He’s watched companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook move ahead of the pack – companies like Cisco, Oracle and others build the systems to take the game to the highest levels.

Fine, and this makes sense, his knowledge, experience and observations are relevant for the future and in hindsight. Now then, what of the future, will big data still rule the world or will AI, Robotics, BioTech and NanoTech take the lead? Well, I suppose I could submit to you, as might Jaron Lanier, that in those sectors, big data will help those companies leveraging that data the best reach the top and control and own those industries.

Consider how important big data and computing power is to artificial intelligence? Without the computing power it’s not useful at all is it? What of robotics, same thing right, and you have to merge AI with robotics to get to the fullest potential there, again, big data is keenly important to success. In BioTech, the same thing, we already see that don’t we? DNA isn’t simple, it takes computing power to figure it all out. Material science is simple in concept, but complex to make it work for you. It seems that big data, and information technology will rule the game for the next era won’t it? Please consider all this and think on it.

Could Computers and the Internet REALLY Replace TESOL English Teachers?

A Controversial Question

At ELT English seminars, workshops and TESOL conferences, one question I’m frequently asked is whether I think computers will eventually replace English teachers. I flash back to the film “Matrix”. In an early scene, our neophyte hero “Neo” is learning Kung Fu by being plugged in to a computer. Scant hours later, he opens his eye, sits up, and announces, “I know Kung Fu!” The ensuing scenes depict how an older, more experienced mentor (a.k.a. a teacher) follows up by evaluating young Neo’s “skills”. “Show me”, the teacher asks in typical fashion. Now if you’ve been following along with me so far, you already have a clue as to my asnswer to these teachers’ question.

Computers replace a human English teacher?

Are you kidding?

“Ain’t no way, Jose.”

But English teachers, don’t totally relax just yet. What I think we DO need to do is to “re-invent” a portion of the concept of “school”. Here’s what I mean.

Reinventing the Concept of School

Schools, at virtually any level, will need to be virtually and interactively linked to an extensive array of external resources. This means that the “traditional” board, markers and OHP will need to give way to additional, integrated resources that expand the classroom environment to an almost unlimited degree. I mean the works; audio, video, internet, webcams, IM, TXTing, chat, e-mail, RSS, even real-time multi-media input feeds. The classroom and its students would be linked to additional resources like:

• Corporations

• Libraries

• Museums

• Government facilities

• Science, technology and medical centers

• Industry

• Laboratories

• Other learning Institutions

In this way, students would more normally utilize learning activities such as web quests, inter-active dynamics and virtual tours to expand and deepen their knowledge on principles and concepts. The learners would no longer be limited to the knowledge, resources and facilities available at the institution where they attend classes. Instead, the world, literally, is their classroom.

Impact on Learning

How would this directly impact learning? Well, if you’re learning computers, wouldn’t direct access to Microsoft Corp. materials and training be a real boon? Technology students would doubtless derive immense benefit from direct links with MIT (http://web.mit.edu/), Cal Tech (http://www.caltech.edu/), or Lucent Corp. (http://www.lucent.com/) Engineering students would thrive on access to NASA located online at: (http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html), Boeing (http://www.boeing.com/), Westinghouse (http://www.westinghouse.com/home.html), Dupont (http://www2.dupont.com/DuPont_Home/en_US/index.html) or a host of other high-tech corporations.

Law, Government, Human Rights and Political Science students would be at the top of their game hard-wired into Federal, State and local government databases, or FBI (http://www.fbi.gov/), the London Metropolitan Police (http://www.met.police.uk/), the CIA (http://www.cia.gov/) and ATF ([http://www.atf.treas.gov/] ) databases with their accompanying local, regional and national resources. Health majors could be up to date with real-time events in Pathology, Epidemics research, natural disaster response resource information and population health threats through the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/), medical and health networks or the UN (http://www.un.org/). The possibilities are almost endless.

So, I agree that the “traditional” approaches to teaching and learning, not only English and other foreign languages, but numerous other fields as well, will continue to evolve to serve the needs of learners, business and educational institutions. With CBL (Content-Based Learning), well-prepared TEFL English teachers, armed with knowledge, skills and continually developing technology, have nothing to fear from computers. Technology is yet another powerful tool in promoting the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, now and in the future.

What do YOU think?