Formal education no panacea to Fourth Industrial revolution

Got wowed last night to the Seer of Silicon Valley, Prof Yuval Harari. Billed as the “favoured historian” of Obama, Gates and Zuckerberg, our hosts from Investec said they had no difficulty filling the room.

Harari’s bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind is a cage rattler. So are his views on where mankind is headed. And it’s a long way from mainstream perceptions.

Listening to his insights, I couldn’t help thinking about SA’s student protestors demanding free university education. That, sadly, will only be throwing good tax money after bad in a rapidly transforming world where a worker’s most valuable assets are initiative, creativity and an ability to think rationally.

When pushed on what today’s young people should be studying, Harari plumps for philosophy. Virtually every other university degree teaches skills which robots will soon be doing better and cheaper. Formal education is no panacea to the Fourth Industrial revolution.

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