Over the last few years, we’ve used Science Fiction Design Intelligence (SciFi DI) workshops to help our clients envision the future of their industry, so we wanted to apply the same approach to solving the Learning global grand challenge. We define solving the Learning global grand challenge as “creating a world with access to information and experiences that build knowledge and skills for all people at all stages of their lives for personal fulfillment and benefit to society.”We began by hosting Singularity University’s SciFi DI workshop on the future of learning on February 28th – March 1st, 2019.
At SU, we’ve worked with a number of companies and organizations to help them envision the future through SciFi DI workshops. Through a two- to three-day facilitated workshop, we help audiences understand the array of emerging exponential technologies that are likely to materialize over the next fifteen years, assess the resulting strategic opportunities and challenges likely to emerge for their company or organization and start building out these new futures through concrete projects. My colleague Jody Medich wrote a great overview of the process, “How to Leverage the Power of Science Fiction for Exponential Innovation,” that provides more detail.
Our Future of Learning SciFi DI workshop convened more than 50 SU Faculty, staff, startups, Chapter members, mentors, and alumni, as well as local teachers, students, nonprofits, and foundations all connected to the field of learning. These participants joined us from all corners of the world ranging from Switzerland to Myanmar to Chile to the Bay Area. They were working on learning challenges as diverse as helping children learn through augmented reality and gaming in low-income countries to helping the elderly learn how to better navigate the healthcare industry.
We kicked off our first day with talks and workshops that explored how a number of exponential technologies might intersect with the education sector in the future. We heard from SU Faculty and Experts including Jody Medich on trends in exponential technologies and a deep dive into augmented reality and virtual reality; Gary Bolles on the future of learning and work; SU CEO Rob Nail on impact and the overall strategy behind the workshop; Nathana O’Brien Sharma on blockchain, policy, law and ethics; and Brett Schilke on the future of education.During the second day of our workshop, Jody Medich guided the group through our SciFi DI process which involved articulating current challenges in the global education system and then re-imagining these challenges after assuming a number of new technological and social advances that may occur over the next fifteen years.After this analysis, we led the participants through a process of capturing the life and story of an individual living fifteen years into the future, which artists and writers in the room transformed into a graphic novel.
With the launch of our graphic novel (get your copy here!), we invite you to follow the journey of Yabi, Carlo, their Nepis (personalized AIs), families, and friends as they learn and thrive in a future world.Through their story, we explore central questions about the future purpose of learning, what it will mean to be a student or teacher in the future, what a school might look like in the future, what a curriculum might look like, and what life might feel like in general.In particular, we imagined a world where a school could follow the student instead of the student attending a school, where today’s learning curriculum and grading system is replaced by students advancing in their learning by solving real-life problems, where the boundary between being a student and teacher blurs, and where adults and children often learn together.
If you’re inspired by this future vision, we hope that you will help make it a reality.For example, how would you go about building a future Nepi that could guide every human from birth throughout their lifespan on their learning journey? Would your Nepi be realized via augmented reality? Or would it perhaps be connected directly through a brain-to-brain interface or implant? Or maybe it’s a flying robot in physical form?How would the Nepi tap into existing bodies of knowledge and provide personalized learning? Would it communicate with other Nepis? How would we address the enormous privacy and security challenges that might emerge with new technologies such as brain-to-brain interfaces?Or, how would you create a problem-based learning curriculum? Could we create a running list of the world’s biggest problems that are in need of teams of students and teachers to solve? Just like we have the S&P 500, might we have the SDG 50,000 (Sustainable Development Goals 50,000)? We could list the world’s biggest problems and their subsets and challenge the world to solve them. And could this be created through a global platform? Or would it make more sense for every community to have a local version? Would blockchain track everyone’s work and offer credits as people learn, teach, and solve? Could companies, nonprofits, and governments pay learners for solving real-life problems resulting in an economy that collects and distributes value based on people’s contributions to the betterment of humanity?Perhaps you’re more interested in helping solve more near-term problems that set the foundation for solving future problems? For example, check out the work of SU alumna Lucrezia Bisignani, founder of Kukua; SU alumna Hla Hla Win, founder of 360Ed; and SU Portfolio Company Key2Enable—all helping to close the education gap. How might you augment their work and missions?To learn more about the current state of education, the trends we expect to see that will impact learning, and more, visit our Exponential Guide to the Future of Learning.
While this future vision of learning was created in Silicon Valley with an international group of participants very familiar with Singularity University’s mindset, we encourage you to design your own vision of the future of learning that is appropriate for your community.Imagining your community fifteen years in the future. What do you think the future of learning will look like? What will a student, teacher, school, and curriculum look like?Are you already working on a solution? If so, please use join our community using the SU App and share the work you’re doing by adding an impact goal. Once there, you can connect with our ecosystem. You might also want to apply to SU Ventures or the Global Startup Program if you are leading a startup, or explore our strategy, leadership, and innovation solutions if you’re innovating at a large organization. We all have a vested interest in addressing the Learning global grand challenge, and we can each play a role.We’re excited to collaborate with you in building out a future where all people can learn and thrive.