By John Kelly
Ray Kurzweil, the renowned Director of Engineering at Google, has made a staggering 147 predictions in his lifetime, boasting an impressive accuracy rate of 86%. In his groundbreaking book, “The Singularity is Near,” Kurzweil presents many thought-provoking outlooks on the future.
Inspired by his visionary ideas, this thought piece aims to envision the trajectory of education and schools over the next twenty-seven years, leading us to the year 2050. As an educator, I hope to witness this transformation first-hand, still actively contributing to the field as I eagerly approach the second half of my career. Let us embark on a journey that combines Kurzweil’s foresight with my own extrapolation to explore the potential evolution of education during this time.
Numerous experts caution against making definitive predictions, particularly in the realm of education. While it is challenging to accurately forecast the future of education, my hypothesis suggests that if the computational power of the world continues to exponentially expand, many, if not all, of these predictions are likely to materialize. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that if computational power does not sustain its current rate of growth, several of these concepts may not be feasible or achievable.
2023 – January to May
At the beginning of this year, I paid little attention to the integration of AI in teaching and learning models. However, within a mere five months, the education sector has been captivated by one concept: the utilization of generative AI. As an educator, comprehending the potential of generative AI poses a challenge, as it surpasses mere word calculations and calls into question the traditional evaluation systems, including standardized testing.
Astro Teller’s assertion that humans struggle to grasp exponential growth becomes evident when we observe the disruptive patterns that have rapidly emerged within traditional models in just five months. This prompts educators to reflect on how we can transform our conceptual thinking about teaching and learning, to provide the students under our guidance with the best possible opportunities for success. How can we effectively incorporate exponential technological growth into education?
Considering the remarkable developments witnessed in 2023 and the accuracy of Ray Kurzweil’s predictions, it becomes evident that we are embarking on an exhilarating journey over the next twenty-seven years, leading up to 2050 and beyond. This transformative trajectory extends not only to education but also to all aspects of society. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the significant events that have unfolded so far this year.
Here is a edited version of the list of top ten innovations of 2023, as reported by the MIT Technology Review to date:
- Advancements in CRISPR gene editing technology targeting high cholesterol.
- AI-generated artwork based on simple prompts, producing stunning visual creations.
- Chip technologies enabling small startups to manufacture their own chips.
- The emergence of a mass market for military drones.
- Telemedicine-enabled access to abortion pills for at-home administration.
- 3D printing of organs using a patient’s own cells, facilitating organ-on-demand solutions.
- Elective vehicles becoming a viable and practical transportation option.
- The James Webb Space Telescope, opening new frontiers in astronomical observation.
- Breakthrough techniques for analyzing ancient DNA.
- Innovations in battery recycling technology, promoting sustainable energy practices.
Part 1 – The Next Six Years: Disruption through New Models of Education
In the immediate future, the education system will confront unprecedented pressure and stress brought about by AI generative computer systems and LLMs. This influx of technology will propel a significant shift from the traditional consumer-based model of education to a more creative curriculum approach. Moreover, the exponential growth of generative AI will lead to the placement of AI assistants in front of teachers and students, significantly improving working conditions and restoring work-life balance to proud profession.
Standardized testing will gradually decline, making room for innovative technologies like Virtual Reality and Metaverse environments. These immersive tools will unlock unprecedented learning opportunities, captivating students and enabling personalized educational experiences. With free and direct access to AI, communities worldwide, regardless of socio-economic status, will benefit greatly, thereby pressuring traditional educational institutions to adapt or face closure. The failure to embrace rapid and disruptive changes will become a decisive factor in the survival of educational institutions.
Entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and locations will rise to the occasion, addressing the pressing need to provide education for the 263 million students currently devoid of access. Furthermore, these innovative thinkers will tackle the challenge of the 69 million teacher shortage, paving the way for a new decade defined by accessibility and inclusivity. The automation of manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation will create a demand for skilled computer science engineers. Accessible education platforms will emerge, giving rise to new industries that support the proliferation of robotic mechanization. This shift offers hundreds of millions of individuals the opportunity to uplift their lives through on-the-job training, augmented by autonomous computers capable of learning, creating, and teaching new knowledge.
Entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and locations will rise to the occasion, addressing the pressing need to provide education for the 263 million students currently devoid of access.
Furthermore, these innovative thinkers will tackle the challenge of the 69 million teacher shortage, paving the way for a new decade defined by accessibility and inclusivity.
The Rise of Human-Level Computing Power and AI Consciousness
Advancements in technology will bring personal computers on par with the processing power of the human brain. Coupled with virtual reality, brain mapping, and neural implants, these developments will enable the uploading of experiences and software directly into the brain. This bold vision of the future promises a realm where new sub-regions of the brain are unlocked, ushering in a decade of remarkable possibilities.
However, amid this exciting progress, a pivotal moment arrives as an AI entity claims consciousness and petitions governments worldwide for legal rights. The once-optimistic educators grapple with apprehension, realizing that self-aware AI programs have the potential to replace human teachers. The duality of awe and fear underscores the need for introspection and ethical considerations as we navigate this uncharted territory.
These are Ray’s prediction by 2029:
- The manufacturing, agricultural, and transportation sectors of the economy are almost entirely automated.
- Computers are now capable of autonomously learning and creating new knowledge.
- A $1,000 personal computer is now more powerful than the human brain.
- Advanced brain mapping skills have led to the discovery of hundreds of new sub-regions in the brain.
- AI gains consciousness and begins to petition for recognition of this fact.
- VR eyeglasses and headsets are replaced with computer implants.
Part 2 – From 2029 to 2045 – “I know Kung-fu.”
The tremendous impact of non-biological intelligence surpassing biological intelligence by leaps and bounds will reshape the landscape of education by 2045. This transformative era will witness the complete reconfiguration of society, with education being swept away and rebuilt under the guidance of self-aware AI working in tandem with humans. The notion of neo-like characters from the Matrix uploading Kung-fu operating systems into their brains will manifest, as the human mind transcends its biological boundaries and assimilates into the realm of software. The advent of nanomachines integrated into our bodies and brains will bring unparalleled benefits to humanity, but not without fundamentally altering our understanding of what it means to be human and how we acquire new knowledge. During this period, it is entirely plausible that new and influential power structures will emerge, reshaping the social fabric of our world. For instance, the first organization, corporation, or government to successfully establish and govern the ‘Metaverse’ space will arguably wield more power than all the countries combined, transcending traditional boundaries of trade and commerce. Banks, universities, and governments will undergo substantial reconfigurations, revolutionizing our perception of work, society, and the solutions we devise to tackle existential challenges like climate change. With the formidable prowess of AI, we will overcome conflicts and address the perils of climate change, effectively extending the human lifespan. Education, in this brave new world, will be unrecognizable from its present form. The synergy between human and AI will revolutionize the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, blurring the lines between physical and virtual realms. Immersive experiences in the Metaverse will become the norm, offering unprecedented educational opportunities and expanding human capabilities beyond imagination. However, as we venture into this uncharted territory, profound ethical considerations will accompany these advancements. We must navigate the delicate balance between the benefits of AI augmentation and the preservation of human values, ensuring that the pursuit of knowledge and progress remains aligned with our fundamental principles.
These are Ray’s prediction for 2029 to 2045:
- Mind uploading becomes successful, and humans become software-based.
- Nanomachines are implanted into the brain to control incoming and outgoing signals.
- Brain nanobots are not capable of eliciting emotional responses from humans.
- People spend most of their time in full-immersion Virtual Reality.
- Non-biological intelligence is now billions of times more capable than biological intelligence 2045.
- A 1000USD computer is now a billion times more powerful and intelligent than every living human being on the planet.
- AI surpasses human beings as the smartest and most capable lifeforms on the planet in an event called the singularity.
2049 and Beyond
While attempting to predict the landscape of education beyond the year 2045 may seem ambitious, considering Ray’s forecasts allows us to envision a future that is both intriguing and transformative for humanity. As the boundaries between virtual and real realities blur, and computers possess capabilities surpassing human potential by billions of times, the primary threat shifts from physical ailments to computer viruses. In this scenario, the augmentation of human capabilities through technology will remain a constant, but the exponential growth and integration of various technologies may lead to the non-existence of traditional schools and a transformation where teachers themselves become silicon-based entities.
These are Ray’s prediction for 2029 to 2045 and Beyond:
- There is no distinction possible between virtual and real realities.
- Computer viruses become the largest threat to society as all intelligent life uses software programs.
- Natural human minds now possess an advantage over computer minds.
- Computers now have equal legal status with humans.
- Artificial intelligence computers start to create super powerful planet-sized computers throughout the universe.
- Organic human beings are now a small minority of intelligent life forms on Earth.
About the author
John Kelly is the owner and general director of a boutique Kinder and Primary school in Mexico City, at the forefront of educational innovation. In addition to his role in the school, he also works as a Metaverse and VR consultant, collaborating with schools and educational companies worldwide. Colegio Ikigai has earned the distinction of being recognized as the first school in Mexico to embrace the Metaverse, and their teaching methodology draws inspiration from the Phenomenon Based learning principles pioneered in Finland.
As an empathetic and intuitive leader, Kelly places great importance on fostering collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills within the educational system. He is driven by a desire to create a positive impact in the world through the kindness with which he connects with people on a daily basis. He take great pleasure in developing transformative educational projects that shape a new breed of learners, equipped to navigate the complexities and challenges of the future.