March 15, 2017 10:20:36 AM
Sometimes, finding the answer is not the solution. In fact, the answer often leads to more questions.
We are roughly 25 years into the Age of the Internet and, according to experts, on the cusp of an even larger technological age.
Today, our students are studying things that either did not exist when their parents were in school or existed only on a very small scale.
Today's parents did not study robotics and did not learn to code when they were in schoolchildren. But their children certainly are. The eighth-grader who is now learning the rudimentary aspects of robotics or being introduced to coding, is preparing for a career that may not now exist.
It's an exciting time to be young as we move deeper into the Technology Age, the Industrial Age a fading memory.
Most often, new technology emerges to meet the challenges of our economy. It seeks efficiency and cost-savings. Robots that can do the work of 50 workers is great for the company, but not so good for the 50 workers who find themselves obsolete. And while it's true that new jobs emerge to manage the machine that does that work, it doesn't create the volume of jobs that machine replaces.
So, as our technology advances, other, more humanitarian, questions emerge.
Apart from those implications, new technology can work to serve higher purposes, perhaps relieving the suffering of millions of people.
We were reminded of that possibility recently when a Mississippi high school robotics class turned its attention to the question of homeless people as part of a national competition.
Given the challenge to build a device that combined STEAM research -- an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics -- with a community purpose, the Gulfport team noted there were 143 homeless students in their school district. The class came up with the idea to gear something specifically for the homeless population.
The result of their efforts is a solar-powered vending machine that supplies free hygiene products to homeless people. Solar power enables the machines to be located anywhere there are concentrations of homeless people.
We are delighted to see this kind of thinking because the best uses of technological are not always profit-centered.
Here in the Golden Triangle, there are many schools with ambitious robotics program, and we encourage them to be inspired by what their fellow students on the Coast have done and challenge them to apply what they are learning in ways that benefit the broader society.
That is the challenge. We are eager to see what our kids do with that challenge.