Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Learning How To Learn

Not long ago, I read a op-ed piece from the New York Times, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tom Friedman, that has stuck with me.  And frankly it has also made me petrified.  It involves the question of how people need to learn going forward.

To boil the piece down, which you can access by Google if you type in, "While You Were Sleeping" by Tom Friedman, it involves discussion of a new computer that IBM is building called a "Quantum Computer".  Previous to this new "Quantum Computer" the most artificially intelligent (A.I.) computer built by IBM was called "Watson" (the one that became famous from the show Jeopardy).  This new Quantum Computer can handle 50 quantum bits or qubits (what's a qubit, I hear you asking?).  I have no idea, but it is a super fast and super powerful computer that has the capability of working "100,000 times faster than they do today."  Where the rubber meets the road with this is that this computer will be doing many of the jobs that people do today.  Amazon is now launching a whole chain of grocery stores called "Go" that only use these quantum computers instead of hiring employees to help people with checkouts.  Budweiser beer is now experimenting with transporting its product (beer) using driverless trucks.  Bank of America is now testing three "employee less" branches of its banks.  What this will mean in the near-term is that people will be out of work.

To remain competitive in the modern workforce, according to this article, will mean that we have to not learn the basic methods of commerce and business that we know today, but rather that we learn how to work with computers that will do many of the same tasks.  According to one expert, "100 percent of our jobs" moving forward, "will be augmented by artificial intelligence."  This shift is going to change the way we do education in this country.  Rather than learning the three R's (reading, writing and rithmatic), kids will have to learn how to work with super computers.  And here's the scary thing, as if this is not scary enough, these computer systems will not remain static, but will continue to evolve.  Next year there might be a Quantum/Quantum computer, and so on and so on.

Anyone who has faced the frustration of getting a new smart phone and learning how to use it, only to find that the next year, there is a brand new smart phone that requires a whole different set of skills, knows what I am talking about.

In short, and sorry for the long lead-up to this point, we as a society will have to become better at:

Learning How To Learn...

And this is what has got me thinking about church, as we know it, since that is my field and profession.  I wonder if the same paradigm shift will be applied to our churches in the future.  Rather than simply teaching people in a new member's class basic facts about theology, the Bible, the church, the governance of a church, I wonder if we will need to be teaching people how to use some of the technological advances in Biblical learning.  Rather than hiring people to positions who know how to use certain platforms (Outlook, Excel, Propresenter) perhaps the goal will be hiring people who are able to learn new platforms.  Rather than preaching sermons to people about a certain passage of the Bible, I wonder if we will need to help people find further platforms and avenues of learning beyond just the basic sermon on Sunday.

As someone who is a creature of habit, this new advent and societal paradigm shift, if in fact that is what is occurring, does not make me happy.  I love to do the same things each day, day in and day out.  Every day at the gym I always use the same locker, even though there are 100 other lockers available.  I drive the same way to the places.  I am not a fan of shopping, so I buy the same clothes that I had before, only newer versions.  I eat the same foods and drink the same drinks.  I'm a 45 year old fuddy duddy when it boils down to it.  But I will need to get more comfortable with:

Learning How To Learn...

What Christians in the new epoch may need to hold in tension are the dueling philosophies of "Once Reformed Always Reforming" (The centerpiece of Reformed theology) and also that our God, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).

All For Now,


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