Smartphones + Free Online Education = Disruption

Ever since the industrial age, technology has been widening the gap between the rich and poor. You either fell on the side of the curve that benefits from technology, in which case you become more wealthy, or you fall below the threshold, in which case technology commoditizes you and you become poorer.

Actually, for a while, it was possible for people below the threshold to move up by learning new skills — farmers doing manual labor became more skilled factory workers. But the relentless improvement in technology pushed the bar higher and higher until people now have a hard time keeping up.  Where does the average person go once a computer can beat Kasporov in chess? Hence the erosion of the middle class.

There is however still room in high tech. If you are lucky and of above average intelligence, you can still be educated and secure one of the increasingly scarce jobs that are above the threshold of technological obsolescence. I say lucky because you have to be born in the developed world with access to higher education, etc.

With the advent of global Internet connectivity, affordable computing devices and free online education (information wants to be free), a few billion brains will soon have the potential to compete with the lucky few for the same increasingly scarce jobs.

I think something amazing is going to happen when all this comes to pass.  Either a weird dystopian future where everything is completely commoditized, or something amazingly wonderful, like all the brains working together to enable some breakthrough science that opens new frontiers for humanity.

My hope is for the latter.


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