I have a theory that much recent tech development and innovation over the last decade or so has an unspoken overarching agenda. It has been about creating the possibility of a world with less human interaction. This tendency is, I suspect, not a bug--it’s a feature. We might think Amazon was about making books available to us that we couldn’t find locally--and it was, and what a brilliant idea--but maybe it was also just as much about eliminating human contact.
Every patent holder is proud of their patent. As they should be. Obtaining a patent is expensive, time-consuming, and there is an adversarial process with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that you must overcome to establish that your invention is valid. But the business of patents has changed. It used to be a system that rewarded an inventor for a genuine innovation, one that the patent clearly described, and entitled that inventor to prevent anyone else from making that invention.
The liberal arts and humanities curricula of our state’s universities need to be adjusted. More than these students simply and deeply immersing themselves in literature and theory and commentary, they need some introduction or background in STEM to contextualize the kind of issues they’ll be asked to face -- in not just the coming job market, but in all our future society’s framework.
As any business leader can attest, the world has become increasingly complex. To navigate in that world, they need all of the help they can get -- and one powerful tool is a grounding in STEM. Technology and science are not only central to today’s business landscape, but they’re often the keys to progress.
But even with schools’ boosted interest in engineering and math, students often find themselves at a loss as they think about college and careers. Interaction with real-world engineers in actual work situations -- especially in the students’ local areas -- may help as they make crucial decisions about their college years and beyond.
This destruction of old value with the adoption of innovation is not hard to see. Electronic media are displacing printed media. Wireless technologies are replacing most wired communications. Travelers are staying in other people’s homes rather than hotel rooms. People are riding in other people’s cars instead of calling a taxi - and I could go on and on. Most innovation is simultaneously constructive and destructive, and who can say how we calculate the net effect.
As colleges and universities become increasingly focused on student services in order to attract and retain students, it’s never been more important to gauge how students feel about some of the larger, innovative -- and often tech-based -- initiatives leadership spends copious amounts of time and money supporting on campus.
As the US presidential candidates lay out competing visions for the country, I have been thinking about a topic they have not yet discussed in detail: what political leadership can do to accelerate innovation. Innovation is the reason our lives have improved over the last century. From electricity and cars to medicine and planes, innovation has made the world better.
We applaud the U.S Department of Education report last week that presented an “aspirational” vision for STEM teaching and learning by the year 2026. To be sure, the STEM subjects -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- have been hot-button issues over the last few years, both inside and outside the Beltway. But why in the world is this blueprint for change slated for the year 2026?