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Innovation

 Innovation and the fourth industrial revolution

Innovation is as old as humans themselves and is seen as a major driver for human progress and wellbeing.  However, when innovation peaks in society, major changes take place and sometimes influence dramatically the societal development, like the industrial revolution.

These innovation waves can be described in different ways, the World Economic Forum, describes the current wave emerging as the fourth industrial revolution, 4IR, – where one credo is all what can be digitalized will be. 

And the world has got a new justification for why innovate: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.

AI and CT

One of the aspects with this innovation wave, the 4IR, has been concern over the speed of development and possible impact from Artificial Intelligence, AI, and Cognitive Technologies, CT.  E.g. as said by Stephen Hawking, “AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.” For many, the speed of destruction of jobs have been a major concern. Before during waves of innovation, more jobs have been created than destroyed – but findings from reports like the one in 2013 from Oxford university, Frey and Osborne, indicate that almost 50% of current jobs in the USA will be destroyed. The problem is off course that if the speed in job destruction is much higher than job creation – major human and societal problems will occur. 

New reports, new findings – job destruction is hyped – changes in jobs not

Three new reports provide important findings and suggestions on the impact from Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive technologies.  Thanks to BBC and Financial Times – new findings have got attention, represented with the fresh report “Automation, skills use and training” (OECD, March 2018). The report suggests that 14 % of the jobs in OECD countries are “highly automatable” which is far fewer than suggested by Frey and Osborne. 

MacKinsey in December 2017 launched the report “Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation”. This report is also much more moderate than Frey and Osborn, and suggests that advanced economies will create sufficient new jobs to offset the impact of automation by 2030. “Globally, however, the workforce transitions ahead will be very large. Between 75 million and 375 million people may need to switch occupational group by 2030 due to automation, and will need to learn new skills or increase their level of education in order to find work” it says. Other findings of interest are for example estimates for differences in job creation and destruction in developing and developed countries.  In both cases, by the way, education is a big “job winner”.

The policy note “The Age of Artificial Intelligence, Towards a European Strategy for Human-Centric Machines” suggests that “AI holds the promise of addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges, from climate change and poverty to disease. Used in bad faith, it can lead the world on a downward spiral of totalitarianism and war, endangering – according to Hawking – the very survival of humankind itself.” Furthermore, it suggests that the situation has to be met by A European Strategy for AI which:

  • “Support. Build an environment that is favorable to the development and uptake of AI technologies
  • Educate. Focus on individuals to build AI skills and educate users
  • Enforce. Deploy and adapt traditional policy tools to tackle economic and societal challenges posed by AI
  • Steer. Ensure a human-centric approach that guarantees the highest level of welfare for citizens”

The goal, the note argue, should be a society where people feel empowered, not threatened by AI.

Why focusing on this?

First of all, we are in the start of a huge disruptive wave that will post challenges, opportunities and cause major changes in education worldwide.  Awareness is important. 

Secondly, higher education institutions and systems should establish competencies, courses and “innovation labs” for AI and CT.

Thirdly, higher education should actively engage in the policy debate on meeting educational, economic

al and societal challenges posted by AI and CT.

Fourthly, higher education should actively take part in the ethical and governance debate on AI and CT to ensure a human-centric approach.

This message and similar has been provided when presenting an ICDE reflections on digitalization and the new waves of innovation, for example at the latest during the 1st International meeting on management and regulation of Health Work, 26-28  March 2018, Brasilia, Brazil, presenting “The International Panorama on Innovation in the Public Sector

ICDE has a partner that does an excellent and innovative job in creating awareness and knowledge on new and emerging technologies, including AI and CT – Showcasing innovations in online learning – Virtually Inspired. A very relevant and timely initiative that I urge to share and contribute to.

The ICDE agenda: Lifelong learning at the center

For ICDE a big issue derives from the current development, and that is the importance of the next generation policies, concept and methodologies for Lifelong Learning.

One thing is the creation of new and destruction of old jobs, but the other thing is that almost all jobs will be affected of the rapid development and therefore represent a massive call for lifelong learning.  This calls for a collaborative effort we have not yet seen.

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