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How do you talk to your kids about AI?
I have three teenagers who are starting to think seriously about the rest of their lives, and I have trouble explaining to them how fundamentally different I believe things will be five to ten years from now.
In my case, growing up in an Indian household in the United States during the 90s meant that I started thinking about college when I was in the fifth grade. And for my generation (I'm 46 now), there is no question that my parents were right: a college education was an absolutely critical part of career success for the vast majority of my generation.
Here are a few things I am doing my best to explain to them:
🔹 Many of the current career paths you are considering will be fundamentally altered by AI. Jobs like writer, lawyer, and even doctor won't exist in the same ways they currently do. That doesn't mean we don't need writing, law, or medicine, but it does mean that so many parts of these jobs will be automated to the point that they are potentially unrecognizable in the near future. Your path to contributing to those fields will look very different, perhaps unrecognizably different in some cases.
🔹 There is no longer any argument about college being the best place to learn a craft. It is emphatically not the best place to learn most crafts. How does your recently-tenured physics professor compete with a YouTube compilation of the Feynman Lectures? He doesn't. That's not to say that the discipline of being in a university with a good lab, surrounded by other students isn't important. It just means that anyone with a lot of self-discipline can learn a lot on their own. There are several companies thinking deeply about this, and it is highly likely that we'll have better educational models than college very soon.
🔹 You don't have an option when it comes to AI. You need to learn how to use it. This is the opposite of what your teachers tell you, but I want you to use it. Use it to automate your homework, use it to learn things you're interested in, use it to get around the system. Learning these hacks will serve you immensely in the future, far more than satisfying the learning goals of teachers who don't understand technology at all will.
🔹 If you are deeply interested in things like applied math and computer science (one of my three teenagers is), it's still the best time ever to pursue this - AI will only make opportunities in these fields bigger, despite the fear of job losses in the media.
🔹 Soft skills have never been more important. Find opportunities to learn leadership and emotional intelligence, to solve problems that involve teams and complex tasks in the real world.
How are you talking to your children about AI?