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The Disruption of Work and Education in an AI World
My interview on the Hannah Frankman Podcast
In the age of AI, traditional education is OUT, and self-taught AI skills are IN…
Within a year or two, the office job market will look radically different than it ever has, as AI washes over most workplaces.
How should young people change their plans for education as this AI tsunami crashes over the workplace?
In my interview with Hannah Frankman--a rebel maven of alternative education--I make a controversial claim:
In the age of AI, going to college will be a massive financial and career harm for most students, particularly those taking on significant debt.
(The exception is students who want to go into a field like law, which requires an academic credential and/or licensure, such as law, engineering, or medicine--though these fields are being upended by AI as well.)
Colleges have already demonstrated that they intend to keep young people away from AI either partially or fully, saying that using AI tools is “cheating.” Overpaid college deans correctly see AI as a threat to their business model.
(And yes, colleges are for all intents and purposes businesses--and ruthless ones at that--despite their fig leaf of non-profit status.)
Point blank: any young adult who has been kept away by their teachers and professors from learning about AI tools urgently, will be irrelevant to the job market next year, let alone in four years.
Students simply do not go to college (and take out large student loans) to become economically irrelevant, and they should not. So education needs to be rethought from the ground up as AI dominates every area of our economy.
What Young People Should Do Instead…
In the interview, I sketch the outline of a path of self-study that will position any young person to absolutely trounce most of their peers who went to college in the job market over the next four years.
(This will also work for y’all adults seeking to get an edge in the coming AI-dominate workplace.)
The formula is simple:
(1) Pick a field you're passionate about, which has some economic potential.
(2) Immerse yourself in free online self-education in how to use AI tools (text, coding, multimedia, design, etc.) to add value to that field.
(3) Enjoy a massive economic edge over people who stayed away from such immersion over while pursuing higher education.
Here's the example I give in the podcast:
Let’s compare two bright recent high school graduates, Susie and Timmy. They’re both interested in the business side of sports and fitness and want to find careers in this field.
Timmy goes the traditional route, because his parents and teachers told him to. He goes to college, and spends the next four years taking mediocre classes taught by underpaid adjunct professors from stale textbooks. He spends plenty of time drinking beer with the homies at frat parties.
And most devastatingly for his future employment, Timmy spends little or no time learning the defining skillset of today’s workplace: AI skills. (His professors told them that using AI is “cheating,” so he stayed away.) Timmy has no directly marketable skills upon graduation.
Now, here’s what Susie does instead. Upon high school graduation, she spends a year of self-study learning everything she can about how to use the latest AI tools (text, multimedia, coding, marketing, business management, etc.), and the new ones that come out every month. She then figures out how to apply these to the business and management of sports teams and the fitness industry.
After that year, Susie goes to local sports teams, gyms, athletic associations, etc., and offers to teach them how to use these AI tools in their businesses, either as a consultant or an employee.
Who is going to win in this career landscape?
The obvious answer is Susie.
By the time Timmy has graduated, four years later, Susie has already been working in the field for three years. She’s the one who looks at Timmy’s resume at the sports league she works for when he applies for a job after his college graduation. Susie throws his resume in the trash when she sees he has spent the last four years ignoring the rapidly shifting landscape of AI in her field (ouch!)
(Oh, and by the way, Susie’s got a bank account with solid savings for a 22-year-old, while Timmy is five figures in student debt, and can’t get a job.)
"What about all the non-economic reasons to go to college?”
Mind expansion, self-discovery, becoming well-rounded, making friends, being part of a community, critical thinking… how will Susie learn these?
My answer. Susie displayed a modicum of self-starting initiative, unlike Timmy. She discovered that libraries are free. Paperback books are cheap. Free informal learning groups are plentiful online and offline in any city. Mentors are usually a few networking meetings away. Community is all around, if you help create it.
Susie learned leadership by leading informal projects, in the arts, civic engagement, causes, and advocacy. Timmy may have learned some of these things in college, but one thing he didn’t learn is how to create these things on his own, without having to go into debt to pay someone else tens of thousands of dollars to teach him.
Any young person who doesn't have the drive to avail themselves of these free resources and methods to enrich their mind and soul is not likely to benefit from the standardized, ossified, and bureaucratized versions of these things sold at a massive markup in college anyway.
(Another important point: if Susie was a young child now, and she and her parents saw these trends coming, and they realized they no longer needed to optimize Susie's education for going to BS college, they could spare her the BS coercive rote learning and teaching-to-the-test that passes for primary and secondary "education" and could instead allow her to focus on real-world skills, community and family connection, building things, playing and exploring outside, and contributing to her community, all while she gets a head start on AI skills as well. Sloughing off high school to focus on these healthier and more relevant things will become the new smart move for young people.)
In the age of AI, for most young people, college is becoming a debt-fueled scam, insofar as it promises to prepare students for the job markets of tomorrow.
(Again, the exception is fields that *require* academic credentials and/or licensure--though these fields themselves are about to go through massive shockwaves and displacement from AI as well.)
If you want to understand where the job market is headed, and therefore where young people's preparation for the job market should head, listen to this explosive episode in which Hannah Frankman interviews me in-depth, and also asks all the tough questions.
The YouTube version is here. The Apple Podcast version is here. And the Spotify version is here.
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