Innovation for Banyan Brains

by | Dec 23, 2021 | Newsletter | 0 comments

Written by Marty Perlmutter

The context of our proposed academic innovation initiative includes most importantly the social milieus and community values of Taiwan. Whatever we do must honor the communitarian spirit and intellectual style of that society. Whatever we offer must address the rapidly morphing climatological, technological and global-citizenship world students confront.

What passed for breakthrough tech in 2021 will be passe in 2025 and risible in 2030. Career goals that made perfect sense in 2010 are questionable today and may be more than ridiculous in a decade. We have an obligation to incorporate the roles and work styles of the midterm future in learning we provide now. Innovation that celebrates the past is not worthy of the title.

Our students are pursuing skills in communication and socio-political navigation. They are not technical nerds, which is a gift for the innovation team – because we can look beyond tech fashions of the moment to macroscopic trends that should inform learning experiences in the late 2020s.

Possible subject clusters:

  • Blockchain, NFT and Crypto
  • VR, AR, Immersive Environments and Gaming
  • Collaborative Investigation of Crowd-Sourced Data

Education for the Future

BGL educates global citizens. We promote perspectives that allow students to grasp foreign worldviews and play roles of adept collaborators on any continent. BGL advances the view that the future is unknowable but will doubtless grow from technologies and trends discernable today. Students can project roles and career paths based on investigations conducted in the current world. But we must not mislead today’s 12 year olds into believing the hot jobs of today will exist in future decades. The future will surprise us—that we know. It is folly to attempt what once was termed “straight-line projection.” The world offers many paths to students, none of them straight.

Predictability

In a society that prizes communitarian values and social conformity, what does “innovation” mean and how can it be practiced? One thing evident today in every field of endeavor is that current fashions, tools and methods will likely be the target of disruption or transformation. Value once calculated by adding to existing piles of money, information or product is today recomputed as it’s impacted by acceleration in connecting, extracting or transforming data. What does that tell us about likely directions for work in the future?

There are no “safe” harbors where work will remain constant for decades to come. Doctors and engineers require frequent upgrading of training today to remain employable. Lawyers are under profound threat from AI and software creation itself may become the province of disembodied intelligences that already loom. 

Direct human care looks like it might be a resilient field, but there are affordable, patient and responsive robots already serving sickly elders. They never require a sick day or a pay increase.

What are the careers of 2040? We don’t and can’t know.

So how do we help students prepare for a tumultuous future, immanent but mysterious…?

What capabilities are disruption-proof?

The capacity to invent, to innovate, to imagine something new is itself a teachable skill and one, like communication, that is unlikely to become obsolete.

Innovation as Curriculum

To serve the global-citizen learner-innovators of the mid-21st-century, BGL could do great service by guiding students to the known verge of technology, media and scientific exploration and imparting skills of thinking, planning, collaborating and team leadership that will remain valuable in any future milieu.

What are the most important skills we can convey? We already know that learning is socially constructed, so the capacity to collaborate in exploring and communicating is vital. BGL teaches that today. This project will investigate new tools for data collection and group collaboration, capabilities that inevitably will be part of any career. We will look at and work with the latest methods for recording and analyzing data, on any scale. We will study practical uses for immersive technologies, with an eye to applying these to future health, collective decision-making and commercial needs. We will consider entirely new forms of value creation, using crypto-currencies as a special case of blockchain technology. We’ll also look at practical uses of blockchain for record-keeping in health and education.

We will take our students to the verge of what’s being tried in VR, AR, AI, Crypto and Blockchain and peer over the edge, aiming to impart a style of collaboration and method of thinking that will yield what once was termed “reliable creativity.”

What will it mean to be a “creative thinker” in 2030 and beyond? Why might that be a valuable skill? Does being creative mean you can’t be a good team player? What sorts of groups and teams work best when the task requires inventing something new? What IS “innovation,” really?

Walking the Walk

We are embarking on a survey of the latest and greatest in educational technology innovations. We’ll learn about the best and brightest things being done on the bleeding edge of ed tech. We know that only culturally appropriate methods will gain traction and acceptance.

BGL is challenged to create a curriculum that is not only inventive, but enables its participants to grasp the meaning of innovation, glimpsing the limits of what is known and usable at the edge, and then bringing into collective use techniques and tools that are more than cool – they alter the way learning is conducted, the way teams are formed and, most importantly, the way students think. We might impact the way students visualize how to make a living, how to live a life, and how to lead in socially beneficial ways that improve the lives of all.