[Edu-sig] As We May Think: What will we automate?

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Mar 21 22:14:15 CET 2009

One of our Wanderers (think tank in Portland) wrote:

I expect that teaching Python/Perl/Ruby/Java in the 2000s will be
viewed with the same scorn in the 2030's. The problem with "flavor
of the month" languages is that they are passe a month later, as
better abstractions appear. Such evanescent ways of doing things
are probably not the basis for life-long learning.

<< SNIP >>

In the Wonderful World of the Future, most people will be actively
creating active digital content with state and flow control, object
abstraction, "programming" in the sense of producing automated
stuff that accomplishes tasks. But it won't be text based. There
may be a few Morlocks laboring down amongst the lines of code like
you and I do. Working with "text code" will probably be considered
"fundamental" and "connected with our roots", like animal-powered
agriculture is now....

So take a look at "programming in schools" from the viewpoint of
an adult in 2030, not a 2009 viewpoint, and heaven forbid from the
viewpoint of the ancient times when you and I were trained. What
do you wish you had been taught 40 years ago? What was fashionable
but dated? Extrapolate that forwards, and try to guess what they
will want, not what you and I consider important /now/. For extra
points, try to guess what they should be teaching *their* kids,
for use in the year 2060, and get started on the theoretical
underpinnings of *that*.

I'm wondering what people on this list think about this remark.

I responded rather sharply at the time, as I think it's a common
dodge, to avoid adding grist to the mill today, because of some
hypothetical future wherein said "grist" will be obsolete.

In the meantime, we continue teaching technical subjects as if the
FOSS revolution never happened, I think imperiling its gains (sliding
back into a pit of "deep silos" proprietary ignorance -- could

I've further registered my disagreement with the above model in my
journal posting of this afternoon, but I'm guessing a wider variety of
perspectives might be useful at this juncture.



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