Maker Club, AI, and Skills My Kids Will Need

file-5My nine year old daughter asked me what car she will use when she starts driving. It occurred to me that by the time she reaches driving age we will probably have autonomous vehicles. She may never have to learn to drive. Likewise, there are a bunch of other jobs that we take for granted today that artificial intelligence may do in the future.

A lot of the skills people are learning today will be obsolete as technology improves further. Programming will become even more intuitive, robots will be more ubiquitous, and artificial intelligence will absorb more of the menial tasks that people do today.

My wife and I are doing our best to encourage her to learn STEM related skills including encouraging math and science along with having her participate in the local maker club where she is learning basic computer programming. What’s interesting is that the most valuable thing she’s learning at the maker club isn’t programming or basic fabrication. It’s teamwork, leadership, and building consensus.

My daughter and her friends had to decide together what to build, who would be responsible for what, and how it would all come together. It’s not so easy to get a bunch of eight and nine year old girls to agree on what amounts to a group arts and crafts project combined with servo motors, LEDs, and sensors. But when I came back 90 minutes later, they had worked out the project conceptually, applied some basic geometry, and wrote simple programming instructions. When they moved a hand near a proximity sensor, a rain cloud appeared next to a sun and a worm wiggled. In all, it was pretty impressive.

Technology is always evolving and it’s important to be knowledgeable in the latest advances. But the ability to create team cohesion and keep everyone motivated is a skill that won’t be replaced by computers. It’s a skill I look for in colleagues, and one that I’m sure my clients value in me.

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