Sunday, February 23, 2014

Juan Enriquez: Futurist

The following is a summary of what I took away from futurist and best selling author Juan Enriquez.  Mr. Enriquez recently spoke at the ACSA Superintendent's Symposium in Monterey.

The message for educators is to realize the new changes in industry, and what drives the economic engines today require a different sort of worker.

Network Environment
The new changes are now driven by knowledge and require a new type of employee where there is a necessity to train people to solve problems in contrast to the type of worker who fits into an assembly line.  There is striking and seldom shared awareness the amount of all knowledge since human history will double the next five years!

This provides an opportunity for kids today like there has never been.  The point for educators is how we prepare them has to change.  The type of environment they will need to fit into is not a corporate environment but a network environment.

The diagram may represent a student network.  The question is, would you rather be person "B" or "A"?  It would be good to be "A" if you are a newspaper editor.  However, it would be good to be "B" if there was a flue epidemic

All human society is organized this way, and most innovations come from the  perimeter of the network; not inside.

The key question is how do you get these people in the perimeter involved?  The thought change is from a network mentality vs the current hierarchy system that worked during a different time period. 

The responsibility for the educator is to train people for innovation and change.  This includes understanding what roles people play in a network environment.
We train kids to be prepared in a network environment with the awareness 5% of the people in an organization are connected to 21%.

The onset and rapid growth of 3 D printing provides an example of needing students who are creative.  Creative kids need to be part of the organizational network.  Baxter the industrial robot ( is an example of where production can return to the US, but we need the type of student who can operate these types of mechanisms and who are educated accordingly vs the old paradigm of uneducated people who worked on an assembly line.

A young entrepreneur invented and created a prototype of a flying car.  Formerly in the old paradigm, the manufacturing of such cars would have required a 100,000 person company.  Today, due to knowing and leveraging the power of today's networks which included outsourcing with the appropriate connections, the car was built by a 20 person company.

Kids need to learn to learn in a network and how to use these networks!

Computer code has driven our current industry, and the amount of information and communication and knowledge we can derive and use should change the way we teach.  Based on the growth in this area, we can now bring the world's largest library into the classroom.  Question: "Might students and teachers need a different skill set?"  We find today some people are literate and illiterate in global language.

Today we are moving from the digital code (1,0) to the life code (DNA: ACTG).  We can program life code since now we read life as four letters, (DNA has four codes: ACTG) and we can now program life code!  We have 3.2 billion codes in each of our cells, and if we change one letter in the code, we can make a dramatic change to the organism.  There is an entire code for a life form in each one of its cells.

Juan Enriquez makes the prediction this new work with the life code is going to make the industrial revolution look small.  For example, there are farms with cloned and genomic edited animals that produce chemicals in milk that cure cancer.  This replaced a whole factory.

My Thoughts
Could this be part of the next economic boom, and are our students prepared to adapt to it?  The answer is we cannot afford to wait, and there are skill sets such as the four C's where can build those skills where students can adapt to a changing and fast paced information based world.

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