What does the future look like?

This YouTube video was brought to my attention through Facebook earlier this week. It has some interesting things to say about how we think about the future, and also some predictions abut how nanotechnology might completely change not only our ways of living in the world, but also our ways of understanding the world, ourselves, and everything.

Animation by James Hutson at Bridge8

The animation fits nicely with  this piece from BBC news online which outlines 10 predictions in 1900 that came true … and a few that didn’t.

There are few things we can be very confident about in the future. We can be sure that our communication technologies will continue to get smaller, faster, more powerful, and more widely accessible. But there are so many uncertainties about international trade, transport, the economy, climate, and even the nature of our society that we cannot be sure of what the world will look like in even a couple of decades, let alone another century. And the one thing that just about everyone agrees on is that the rate of change is accelerating.

The consequences of this for educators are widespread. The one thing that we cannot and must not do is put our heads in the ground and pretend that technological change is not happening, or worse, that we know exactly what the world will be like for the students currently in our care. It is incumbent upon us to use the technologies that are available to us now, and to assist our students in developing the skills that they will need to adapt and benefit from the future. Flexibility, collaboration, the ability to research and evaluate information from a wide range of sources, and an openness to exponential change – these are among the most important skills the citizens of the future will require.

We cannot be sure what challenges and opportunities the middle decades of the 21st century will offer up to the young people who are currently in our schools. But we can be certain that they not be the same challenges and opportunities that we and our parents faced in the latter decades of the 20th. It might not be “utility fog“, but then, is that really any more outlandish than Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone in 1969?

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