“We Will All Be Jedi Masters Soon” or “Random But Coherent Thoughts on Modern Education”
Three things have happened recently:
- I am going on the job market and looking for a research job
- Steve Jobs passed away
- I read a blog post entitled “Unless you are awesome, you will be outsourced“
1- We are living in an exciting era. Stanford is offering their AI course online for free and I am telling you, it is not the crappy study material that MIT dumps on their open course ware website. These are serious, well curated videos with quizzes and assignments. Basically what it means is that a brown kid in the desserts of south Oman can now learn what a wealthy full-of-himself Stanford kid in Palo Alto learns about AI .
2- For my PhD I worked on the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI) and machine learning (ML). It took me a couple of years and I can assure you, you can find online and free educational material to become as bad-ass as I am in both of the fields. Ironically the number of educational videos on machine learning outnumbers the number of videos on CHI!
3- Steve Jobs died a couple of days ago. As an open source contributor I hated him while he was around. But I felt extremely sad when passed away. Let’s all face it, he might have been an ass when it comes to treating others or exploiting and abusing child labor. But he lead many amazing projects. Apple was a mecca for HCI people. They really set the standard for innovation in consumer products. I have recently found this video by Steve Jobs in which he emphasizes tool building and how computers are making us super humans. And it is very true. The guy is a visionary. In his words we can quote him, disagree with him, glorify or vilify him, but the only thing we can’t do is to ignore him because he changed our lives forever.
4- In terms of computing we are living in an amazing time too. I work in a lab that has a pretty strong cluster of computers and 90% of the time the load on the cluster is not that much. Do you see it? It means we are entering an era that our computing power is way more than our computing needs! And if we utilize our computing power well we may actually have excess cycles. Things like Hadoop have allowed us to treat multi-computers like single computers and run massive jobs on them. Do things that were impossible before.
I guess what I am saying is that:
The other blog post is claiming that we need to be awesome otherwise we will loose our jobs. What I am saying is that the cost of becoming awesome is decreasing dramatically. With all these free courses, education is becoming cheap (while schooling becomes more and more expensive), our tools are getting better and I also believe that seeing our friends on facebook/twitter/google+ has given us an incentive for self improvement and encourages us to learn and educate ourselves more. It has become much easier to push ourselves to become a Jedi master.