You're missing the point -- many technology skills underlie MANY professions.
An entry-level coordinator needs to know how to interface with Salesforce, and to build new Salesforce objects. This requires a basic understanding of data, and how it's stored. Other entry-level positions require understanding of charts and graphs, or about how to search for information effectively (example: a legal assistant). In an increasingly digitized world, many of these skills underlie most professions.
Before you go knocking Microsoft (ahem: first post), realize that this is really important. Education standards here in the United States are just now being revised (see: the Common Core. Math and English Language Arts, and soon, Science, will be released. Most states have, or will, adopt these measures.
However, by looking through the coming standards, it's clear that while abilities such as critical thinking are addressed, skills and conceptual understanding of the many computational methods that we use daily (as knowledge workers) are left out.
Computing in the Core is looking to make a significant change, but my contention is that we need to focus on more than only computing; we also need to focus on the various important literacy skills, including media, information, data, and network literacy. How many people in the United States actually understand basics about how the Internet works, or about how to make sense of, or read, datasets or visualizations? These are all essential and fundamental skills for a 21st century individual.
Realize that recruiters and many others recognize these needs, and have asked your support - tacit or explicit - to bring expertise to bear in addressing the educational challenge.
Dear Mr. Kurzweil,
Thanks for your inspiring and meaningful contributions to the sciences and humanity. My question may relate to your work in artificial intelligence, but is about human learning.
Over the past century, society has advanced in many ways. Digital technologies have played a particularly significant role in advances in science, medicine and other forms of scholarship.
Yet our primary schools are much the same as they have been for this past hundred years. I wonder what you might think schools look like in twenty, or even thirty years. But rather than to ask such a dry question, I ask: What are 2-3 salient subject/topic-related instructional interactions a 13-year-old might have throughout their day in 2030 or 2040?
Thanks for your response and all the best to your exploration,
Rather than blowing it away outright (which some of the comments have done), let's think about it for a sec. There's some cool stuff going on here, and then a big question.
The cool stuff is the technology and innovation. Think about this for a sec - Facebook's engineers are essentially looking at a variety of signals to determine (a) intent and (b) likely outcome. The signals are getting increasingly complex - not simply keyword boolean queries any longer - and, to me, that's a fascinating growth and extension of technology. It's innovation.
The question, however, is whether there will be enough value, simplicity and meaning to change user behavior from defaulting to Google to defaulting to Facebook or Bing. In my observations of search, for instance, I've seen young people search for Bing on Google simply to access Bing to perform a search. Our default to Google to answer questions of all forms and types is deeply embedded in our action and thought. Furthermore, search will have to prove itself valuable to all the searches not relevant to social graph: typically research questions, like "Who was George Washington?".
So, I applaud the innovation, and will await time to view change, through the lens of history.
Ok, let's stop to consider this for a moment. 30% of the Facebook subscriber base needs to participate if the measure is to pass. What's the liklihood of that happening if:
(1) A significant percentage of all FB subscribers are spambots (estimated at 6-10% - http://www.insidefacebook.com/category/spam-2/ )
(2) The average turnout of a normal adult voting population for US elections is ~50% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout)
(3) There is a gap between "all users" and "monthly active users" - hard to estimate (e.g., http://www.forbes.com/sites/limyunghui/2012/09/30/1-billion-facebook-users-on-earth-are-we-there-yet/ )
(4) Voting requires registering for an app, which (see other comments) also reduces turnout?
I think we can say, with relative confidence, that it's very unlikely that a full 30% of all 'Facebookizens' will express their right to vote. Which is probably why Facebook set the 30% threshold in the first place.
But, it'll be fun to estimate: what percentage of FB users will actually vote in the end?
There's much talk about combating malware through technical solutions (e.g., adding transparency to communication, building increasingly sophisticated scanning systems, etc).
But what interests me is what we should be teaching our young people (students, in primary and secondary school) with respect to the expertise we wished that all adults possessed.
In your estimation, what are 2-3 things that, if young people understood well, would help them excel in the face of cyber adversity (e.g., malware, privacy theft, etc)?
Let's not be stingy here. I second the contention that non-paying users are forthcoming with questions and reports, but I won't call them demands. The education tools (http://www.glean.org - mainly information literacy-related) we provide serve a number of schools, and some sites have heavy user traffic. All are free, but we do try to ask for donations to support our (nonprofit, 501c3) work.
And, when the sites glitch - or don't function properly, or as expected - those same users let us know about it. Quickly!
While few are likely to donate money to support our work, many are involved in bug reporting, formative evaluation and the testing of new education tools that we're launching. It's these kindnesses - in-kind support, you might say - that has been so valuable in helping us move forward.
At the end of the day, it's not cash - which is needed to move the organization forward. And, yes, our free users do have expectations - not unreasonable, as they rely on our services as well, and that the site has likely set some expectations about the service(s) that will be provided.
Of course, the lack of cash can be frustrating. However, I suggest against labeling, or reading, their expectations as demands. Instead, it's more helpful to understand how the audience is willing to help, and if/what can be done (in the case of TFA) to turn the free user base into paying customers.