back to school

rethink sustainability

back to school

LOcom_AuthorsLO-POD.png   Patrick Odier
Senior Managing Partner

Yesterday evening I went back to school. I sat in on a session hosted by the University of Chicago, where I studied, which raised some very interesting questions about how to shape the digital world so it develops in a safe, inclusive way, and how to teach tomorrow’s thinkers to adapt.

The first big question is how to define global standards for the digital world. Privacy does not mean the same thing in the US, for example, as it does in Europe. Furthermore, who currently has the best talent in artificial intelligence (AI) and how is best able to attract it going forward? Is it governments or industry? If governments are not able to compete for that talent, how can we bridge the gap to ensure the safe development of this new digital paradigm? The interaction between the private and public sector is central in a digitalised world – one cannot do without the other.

This is something the Geneva Digital Talks could help address by including a chapter on how to avoid repressive measures resulting from government reactions to abuses of data or hacking, and to look at the implications for penetration of private clouds by public authorities. What we need is a stable ecosystem in which the private sector is allowed to innovate in a way that is socially inclusive.

The second question is what we need to be teaching the next generation. There is a strong case for teaching ethics, for example, alongside computer science as a way of ensuring we get the kind of stable ecosystem I just mentioned.

Schools also need to place an emphasis on three other important areas: first, critical thinking, which is of the upmost importance in a world where data is increasingly abundant; and, second, the ability to write. We are already seeing the effects of a world dominated by email, and where Twitter posts are limited to 280 characters. Third, schools need to impress on their students the need for continued learning. Thirty percent of US college graduates stop reading books after they graduate.

To ensure the digital world evolves in a socially inclusive manner, tomorrow’s thinkers need to be able to decipher what data matters and exactly what it is telling us, to write effectively, and to look at education as an ongoing process that doesn’t stop the day they graduate. If anything, it needs to accelerate.

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