What I learned the past semester in this wonderfully dynamic and engaging class can’t be easily summed in a blog entry, but here goes my best efforts:
The world changes quickly
Although we’re oftentimes told to look to the future for opportunities and new developments, few of us actually realize how quickly the future becomes the present. Who would have guessed that Uber, upon its creation, would quickly reinvent our very concept of “taking a ride”? Did anyone anticipate “fake news” becoming a trending subject that made us question the integrity of our news institutions? What about the rise of monthly pricing models as the new means of paying for media/content consumption? Finally, who among us would have guessed that Facebook reaps our data in droves for profit? (alright, that was an easy one) All of these developments have gained a foothold in our society within a few years or less. If you had kept your head down for even a brief period this past year, you would have quite a bit of catching up to do once you looked around you.
Advancement isn’t always our next saviour
As demonstrated by the controversy surrounding AI research, not all new developments are universally-welcomed. As we approach the third decade of the new millenium, increasingly advanced technology will cause us to question the definition of privacy, convenience, and innovation. Innovating for innovation’s sake isn’t always a welcome endeavor, and those who think the next big thing will always benefit society may be too short sighted to realize that technology, as a whole, is merely a tool for an end. What that end may be depends on completely on who is wielding it. A craftsman may use a hammer to build a house, but a burglar will use that same hammer to break into that house. For this reason, responsive and capable oversight will be a necessity, moving forward. This means our current members of Congress are vastly unsuited to tackle the problems facing our ever-advancing world.
The best defense is a good offense
As technology develops and renders certain employment opportunities redundant, our best bet will to remain flexible, both mentally and professionally. Never stop learning, as knowledge is our greatest asset in staying relevant in this constantly shifting job market. The moment we let complacency take over, we become potential targets for the next wave of technological innovation to usurp us. I don’t claim that “no job is safe” from technology, but who would have thought that travel agents and tour guides have become obsolete due to the rise of the smartphone? Don’t panic in thinking that the world is ending tomorrow, but simply stay on your toes, and keep an ear to the ground.
The value of your peers is immeasurable
You guys have taught me an incredible amount in these short few months. I couldn’t have imagined that the lessons gleaned from this class would take on a life of their own, but they have! Concepts and lessons we review each week have been reiterated and explored in various ways through the interactions we have on this very blog and on Twitter, where news and changes about the “next big thing” appear as surely as the sun does each morning. I can confidently say that no other class has led me to be as introspective about myself and reflective on our society as this one has. I will take the lessons learned this past semester with me forever, and I hope each one of you does the same, for there is no greater value in educating and pulling each other up than to take lessons learned from others to heart. Thank you to everyone who contributed and shared their thoughts this semester; it wouldn’t have been the same without you!
With that said, I’d like to quote a favorite movie of mine to say: