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By Greg Williams

A LUX x ROSEWOOD COLLABORATION

Black and white portrait of WIRED magazine editor Greg Williams

Greg Williams

In recent years, ambitious parents have added a further endeavour to the list of educational activities they believe will enhance the character of their children. Along with music lessons, chess and languages, coding has become a must for any child whois to compete in the global economy of the future. No longer is it acceptable to master the Suzuki violin method or be proficient with an épée, no, the corporate titans of the future must also be armed with a fully developed grasp of the programming language Python. Tiger mothers from Cupertino to Chelsea compete to secure Imperial College computer science graduates as tutors, fearful that their children will be left behind by the merciless advancement of AI and quantum computing.

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There is some truth to large numbers of young people needing to be proficient in STEM skills. But it isn’t the whole picture. As it has floundered from one recent catastrophe to another, Facebook has demonstrated at in ear to deficiencies in its business, from culpability in undermining the democratic process to data privacy. Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s response that he would ‘fix’ Facebook demonstrated his engineer’s mindset. Having leadership capable of empathy and creative engagement would have served it much better than the obfuscation and platitudes that have become its hallmark.

Technical, scientific and engineering skills are crucial for economies, but so too is the underpinning of all discovery: language. Many in the technology industry believe that coding will soon be done by machines themselves, making much of what humans do today obsolete. What will remain crucial for our advancement are the skills that existed long before the concept of the programmable computer: human creativity and ingenuity. It’s what will determine our destiny.

Six ways to get technical:

1. Realise that it’s not just you; everyone else is also trying to understand what digital transformation means.
2. Ignore jargon. If it can’t be explained simply,you probably don’t need to know about it.
3. Don’t be afraid of the new.
4. Assume big tech is not your friend.
5. Stay curious. You have access to every piece of information ever, why follow Kylie Jenner?
6. It’s not really about technology, it’s about human beings.

Greg Williams is editor in chief of WIRED

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 issue.