One of the greatest challenges that the next generation face is how to be useful in an ever more competitive workplace. Even now, there are many tasks that computers can do far better or far quicker than us mere mortals, and the robots are still on the bench, warming up.
So where do the humans have an advantage? Where can we beat the binary? How can we demonstrate that our incredible carbon-based, blood-filled, brains can achieve more than the very machines that we created?
Well, there’s always art.
Obviously, we can’t predict the future but as the digital revolution has bedded in it’s become clear that whilst the human-form robots haven’t come as quickly as thought – the computers have enabled jobs to be reworked and restructured to be automated our outsourced much more easily.
So where does that leave the next generation of kids? What do our little darlings need to do to compete in the recruitment market?
“Deep machine learning will likely automate the writing of code relatively quickly. Creativity is going to be far more important in a future where software can code better than we can”
According to Tom Hulme, a General Partner at GV the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet writes in Wired Magazine we need to teach creativity to our children in order for them to prosper in the world by the time they graduate. In his article, Teach kids creativity. Ultimately, machines will be better at coding | WIRED UK, Tom talks about how his own job, as an investor, means that he has to be able to look the future – 5, 10, 15 years time – and be able to guess with relative confidence what products and services will be needed and how these will be delivered. All of this leads him to the conclusion that we should change where we are currently placing value on education.
The arts help us to study and fuel creativity. Yes, STEM is vitally important, but not at the expense of a more diversified education. A generation of computer coders will help drive the economy forwards but will drive us forwards on the same path that we are already on, just quicker.
If we push all of our children into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) only focused education whilst simultaneously neglecting art, dance, drama, and music – won’t help us take a different route.
There is an equally critical need for an injection of the arts into every science product or service we produce. We just don’t place enough value on it.
Machines only ever act on human instructions. Framing questions is therefore our opportunity to succeed or fail: ask a bad question, and you will get a bad answer. Ask a biased question, you will get a biased answer. Critical thinking and media literacy skills that help us to assess information sources should be embedded in school curricula. – Tom Hulme
For every computer game or program, there is Graphical User Interface (GUI) that needs to be designed. For every product there is packaging and for every service there is billing. Marketing is art on a foundation of mathematics.
On the BBC news website today, there is an article about the Northern Fiction Alliance (NFA) and their open letter calling for big publishing houses to branch out of the UK capital, London, and remove the barriers for entry into the profession.
London-based Penguin Random House said it had removed the need for a university degree from all jobs, introduced paid work-experience and held careers talks across the country. The economy is recognising the need to attract people into creative roles and to remove artificial maths exam-based barriers.
Joanne Harris, the writer of Chocolat, published in more than 50 countries, said there was “a systematic leeching of resources by the current government from the provinces in general with Arts cuts, library closures, museum and theatre closures, etc all based on the idea that only London matters.”
Family & Parenting Magazine thinks it’s worse than that. A bigger problem than leeching resources is our society’s fundamental failure to value arts education. The phrase ‘mickey-mouse degree’ devalued a lot of incredibly useful vocational courses. And we only changed those pre-existing vocational programs into academic degree courses because society determined that everyone needed a degree.
It is time to recognise the value of arts education. It’s time to stop measuring everyone by the same yardstick. It’s time for arts education to revolt.
Viva the revolution. May it look beautiful and be set to music.