No Driver is Needed


A friend of mine has been quite enamored with the potential for AI recently, and she was telling me about something she heard.

We are both fans of Elon Musk, and she shared that he gave a vision of the future where AI-driven vehicles would be busy making their owners some money while the owners were at work. The vehicles would be out and about transporting other people around for a fee instead of sitting in a parking garage somewhere. The AI ability of the vehicle would take care of payments made by those borrowing your vehicle, and auto owners would make more money from their vehicle than it would cost to purchase.

I thought about that conversation Tuesday night as I listened to Sarah Hatton, director of secondary education, during the school district’s final strategic leadership team meeting.

She talked about the future we are preparing our children for and the challenges our educational system faces. The purpose behind these meetings was not to complain but to chart a course to meet the needs of our children, our families, and our community.

Dr. Pamela Stephens, the school superintendent, closed the meeting with remarks that reflected on the challenges our children have faced during the pandemic and the changes in our culture from generation to generation.

Again, the comments were not made to complain, but to consider what is needed to meet the needs of these children, who are our future.

Dr. Stephens talked about how she was taught to be patriotic and to be respectful. So much of that has now been lost, she noted, especially since the pandemic.

As a result, she said, “We have to start listening better. We have to start listening to the kids, figuring out a way to connect with them.”
As she talked, I thought about how much work has to be done to prepare this young, vulnerable generation for the world that lies before them.
We have a generation that struggles to communicate facing a future that is all about communication. It’s about advancements in technology and the ability to stay on top of that.
I love technology, but I struggle to understand all that the advancements of technology will have to offer.

Before you can be a part of a marketplace made up of robotics, electronics, AI, etc., you must be able to comprehend it. In my lifetime we have gone from dial-up telephones and cassette tapes to phones with internet and digital music. We have gone from snail mail to instant connections across the globe.

We have to prepare our children for that future. The AI “your car is driving around while you aren’t” future. Yet we seem to be struggling to prepare our children with simple social skills, effective attention spans, and a value system that gives them the initiative and the courage to lead the way toward the wonders of the unknown.

Ms. Hatton said teachers have expressed a need to have consistency in being able to tell students what their behavioral expectations are and the outcome if those expectations are not met. Our educators have an incredible responsibility, but they are only part of a team, a team that includes family and community.

Perhaps before our children can envision a world of possibilities, we have to first show them how to think outside the box. All of us must contribute so that our children are not sitting behind the wheel in a car that needs no driver.

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