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Smiling, interracial children

I, Too, Have a Dream

communication education technology the environment transportation Jan 17, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been a personal hero of mine since I first learned about him in school.

His story is both inspiring and tragic. He was able to channel his anger at the injustices he and so many others faced into a movement based on love, freedom, and justice—three of my most cherished values. It is painful to contemplate what American culture and society could have been had he survived.

Everyone knows—or should know—of Dr. King's famous I Have a Dream speech given at the March on Washington in 1963.

Well I, too, have a dream.

My dream is that all people all over the world will know peace. That all shall live a meaningful and fulfilling life. That we will all listen to and understand both ourselves and each other.

When we have deep self-knowledge and self-awareness, we can better empathize with others. We see the world more in terms of win-win than win-lose. We find ways to get what we want while helping others to achieve their goals.

More than that, helping others to achieve their goals becomes what we want.

In such a world there is little need for lies and violence. Cooperation and community triumph over competition and tribalism.

There is so much potential in the world that goes unrealized. How many of us are discouraged, or outright prevented from following our true path? Whether with good or bad intentions, we need to stop limiting each other.

We need to support each other.

According to my current thinking, there are five key areas in which we need to focus on making radical changes.

EDUCATION

Most children are raised to do their best in school. But today they are encouraged by their parents to overload their schedule with extracurricular activities, often including activities the child doesn't even particularly enjoy or have a special aptitude in.

This has led to a staggering rise in mental health problems for our youth.

There are folks who have been speaking about solutions to our education problem for some time now, such as the late Sir Ken Robinson (see one of his most-watched TED Talks here). Robinson advocated for a diversity of subjects, not prioritizing one or several over any other(s). Rather, he asserted that education should be more individualized. Let a child be inspired by what they are naturally most drawn to.

There has been an understanding for a long time that in order to succeed in life, you need to not only graduate from high school, but you need a college degree. However, as we've seen over the past decade or two, even a college degree is no guarantee of finding a good job.

It did used to be the case that if you had a college degree, you were certain of finding a good job when you graduated. Today—and in recent years—more college graduates are having to work menial jobs and move back in with their parents than those who are able to find a well-paying job.

There are myriad causes, but one is the rising cost of education, which leaves the student with a mountain of debt after graduation and no high salary to pay off these loans quickly.

The outdated idea that anyone needs a college education should be reconsidered. Each of us needs what is appropriate to achieve our goals. If a young person has an innate talent in the creative arts, such as drawing, music, or dance, there is little point in pushing them to become a doctor or lawyer and leave them feeling traumatized and unfulfilled well into their adult life.

If they later change their mind of their own volition, they can always train and learn what they need for whichever particular industry they choose to go into then.

Finland is often held up as a leading example in the world of education, and justifiably so. Their teaching approach may seem counterintuitive to many here in the U.S.

To begin with, Finns usually don't start school until they're seven years old. They're left to enjoy being a kid. When they do begin school, classes normally begin at 9–9:45am and end by 2–2:45pm. In Finland, kids aren't expected to get up at the crack of dawn, hustle to get to school, and be expected to learn while they're still half asleep.

Once they do start school, their experience is much more conducive to learning: they learn subjects in a more integrated and organic way, and often have the same teacher for up to six years. There is no standardized testing, and there are alternatives available to those who choose not to go on to college but to pursue a trade instead. Also, there is often little or no homework assigned.

The U.S. is a much larger country than Finland: greater than 60 times by population. If we were able to implement such a system here in the U.S., the outcomes would be immense. Healthier, happier, and more content children and young people, not to mention less stressed parents and teachers.

Let's stop telling kids what to do and let them discover and follow their own path. We will all benefit when we allow this untapped potential to shine.

But it is important that we consider education over the long term. Education does not—or should not—end when you leave school.

We are currently seeing the importance of ongoing education in the fast-changing and quickly-evolving world we live in. We live in a world where—for many people—your job or even career may be in danger of disappearing due to technology. We need to make it easier for these people to identify and move into their next role, and receive the necessary knowledge and training.

We underestimate what these people are capable of at our own peril.

THE ENVIRONMENT

I don't need to tell anyone about the climate crisis. You either know about it and are concerned, or you know about it and choose to believe it's a hoax, or at least not a major issue.

The only thing I want to say here is that there is little point in educating people and improving the quality of life for all if we're going to continue harming the planet. Climate change is already disrupting lives and displacing people.

I have spent a good amount of time learning about the issues involved in climate change, and the solutions brilliant and passionate people around the world are coming up with to get us back on the right track.

I am of the opinion that there is at least one, if not multiple solutions for every major problem we currently face, but there is a lack of political will and long-term thinking on behalf of our leaders. This has to change.

COMMUNICATION

Man is a social animal, and communication is therefore vital to our existence. If we want to truly flourish, both as individuals but also as communities and as a society, we need to improve communication.

From an educational perspective we can do a better job teaching communication skills in schools, and make available online learning solutions to those no longer attending school, but who need to improve in this area.

From a technology perspective there is room for improvement as well. Existing technologies need to be made more secure, and broadly available worldwide.

TRANSPORTATION

Perhaps apart from communications, transportation is one of the most important aspects of both our daily life and our economy.

It is not only how we get from place to place, but how we get the things we need to survive, or to enjoy life.

We've seen recently how global supply chain issues have affected prices pretty much globally.

Technology—or should I say people designing technology—will solve some of our transportation problems, but we must to a degree rethink our attitudes towards transportation.

For example, it is unlikely that business travel will ever be the same. To be sure people are anxious to get out of the house after now almost 2 years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, but my bet is that they'll want to travel for recreation and leisure, not for a half-day onsite they could more easily attend virtually.

Also, companies are currently working on new, more sustainable solutions for transporting goods.

From where we currently are at the beginning of 2022, we also seem to be on the cusp of something big in the electric vehicle industry. Pretty much every existing car company—and many new ones—have developed or are developing electric vehicles for both the consumer market and for business.

But as we develop new greener transportation technologies, we must closely monitor the footprint involved in the sourcing and manufacturing processes involved in building these technologies and products.

TECHNOLOGY

I have intimate knowledge of technology, having worked as a software engineer at startups, and in my current role as CEO of an early-stage startup.

Contrary to most people in this industry, I see technology as a tool, not as the solution to all of our problems. As I keep myself up-to-date reading all of the tech blogs, tech news, and new books on tech, the vast majority seem to hold onto this thinking.

Tech doesn't solve problems, people do. And if the majority of people in tech have no real sense of what the root problems are, how can we expect them to design meaningful solutions?

Is there an app that can eradicate poverty? No, but we can use machine learning to make the rich richer, so let's do that.

Even if it were possible to design an app that would eradicate poverty, do you think angel investors and venture capitalists would be clamoring at the door to fund them?

Not likely.

Even those in what is called Ethical Tech seem to be under the illusion that we can solve problems with tech. Tech isn't ethical, people are. Or aren't, as is usually the case. What Ethical Tech should be about is educating people who work in tech in ethics. To be more diverse, and have a greater understanding of what people who are not like them want or need. And to stop looking for problems for your solution.

When we look at tech more broadly—and see it as a tool—we see that it really affects all the areas I'm writing about today: edtech has been around for several years now, though most of the biggest edtech companies don't really seem to be helping us learn in any meaningful way, despite their billion dollar valuations.

Cleantech has a better track record, and there have been many interesting and exciting breakthroughs in recent years.

Within communications we're seeing ever faster speeds, and some novel ways of connecting to the internet, but most voice service still sucks, and in our current pandemic era of increased video calls and video conferences, we're constantly battling bandwidth and other issues.

And transportation is at a critical moment. We have existing electric cars, boats, and aircraft in use with new models being developed and tested all the time.

CONCLUSION

We all should dream more.

These are some of the things I've been thinking about recently and am working on.

What are your dreams? Are you working towards them, or are you finding it difficult due to setbacks, lack of support, or simply not knowing where to start or what to do next?

Get in touch and let me know how I can help and support you!

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