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CETF: Let’s Talk Broadband!

 

Welcome to the Fall 2018 edition of Let’s Talk Broadband! Did you know that an estimated 13 million Californians are unconnected or underconnected to the Internet at home? As school gets into full swing, please read our story of Oakland High School sophomore Jesus Toscano. Jesus’s family learned about discount Internet service through Tech Exchange of Oakland, a partner of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF). Jesus is now in a college prep program at Oakland High School with dreams of working at Pixar. Jesus’s success story can be replicated throughout California.

Many organizations and civic leaders are stepping up as Digital Champions and we have lots of good news to report: See the Attached PDF

Mini-Makers Faire

I have been a promoter of the Maker Movement ever since Maker Magazine was launched in January 2005.  I like to build stuff and in the 1960s and early 1970s was a Heath Kit client, making electronic test equipment, shortwave radio, and a color TV set.  And, when the integrated circuit chips with embedded processor arrived in the late 1970s, I build a computer with switches and blinking lights using an RCA 1802 CMOS Chip.  An early TRS-80 user I make a teletype printer interface to print out programs and email.  In the process, I learned how to write some 1802 machine language code plus some Basic on the TRS-80 and Fortran on a DEC-11 at work.

On Saturday, October 6th, Ellen and I joined hundreds of other tinkers, makers and future makers at the Sierra College Mini-Makers Faire, sponsored by the Hacker’s Lab.

While there was a plethora is activities from beer making, sewing, and coding, it was the multiple robotic displays and activities that was capturing the most attention of the young and mature Makers alike. There were industrial robots, intelligent robots, fighting robots, and underwater rovers.   

Hacker Lab Table

This was our third Mini-Makers Faire at Sierra College. One of the notable changes on campus is the library, it now the Library and Cyber Center.  Gone are the book stacks replace by rows of computer terminals, a Writing Center and Research Assistance Desk, and expanded coffee shop, with lots of tables for social interaction.

Today I tinker with Raspberry Pi processors. I met an exciting gent from the Hackers Lab who had created a weather station with a Raspberry Pi controller. Most interesting was an old-time radio he built with a Raspberry Pi and a storage device to playback over a 1,000 old time radio shows, Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, The Shadow, and many more.

One of my broadband Raspberry Pi projects is HERE.

Every rural county should consider launching a gathering place for makers and hosting a Mini-Makers Faire.  Nevada County has the Curious Forge and Truckee Roundhouse. Sacramento County has two Hacker’s Labs and Placer County one.  These makers places are the incubators for tomorrows economic success. Planner and community leaders can find the recipe for a maker space in Chris Anderson’s Makers, The New Industrial Revolution. 

How do we Prepare Students to Work in the Age of Intelligent Machines?

The Sac Bee is running a series called the Influencers, and I signed up to participate. A recent question was: “What should we ask our Influencers about education?” My response was “How do we prepare students to work in the Age of Intelligent Machines.”

One of the 5G application often referenced in studies is the introduction of self-driving cars and trucks, making the case that artificial intelligence (AI) and high-speed broadband are essential technologies to implement these automated transportation systems. As a result, I have been investigating AI, and its integration in machines often labeled as robots. It is clear that robots are here now and more introduced to the workplace and our communities over time. According to studies, the introduction of one industrial robot in the workplace replaces six jobs.

According to learned articles automation is changing the work and the workforce. According to an article in MIT Technology Review, “AI and Robots are wreaking economic havoc, and we need more of them.” Included in the current issue of MIT TR was an article on AI and Jobs, the authors making the point that manual labor is declining while the need for digital and human skills is soaring.

Between 2016 and 2030 the demand for various skills is rapidly changing with winners and losers:

Skills Chart

Children entering 1st Grade this year will be graduating in 2030 and choosing a career path. The choices today are on to college or enter the workforce. In some states there are apprentice programs for training in the trades, nursing, driving, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, or mechanics are some of the more recognizable. The question is will these be the choices in 2030? Given the infusion of AI and robotic technology in the workplace, the options could be severely reduced. Fewer jobs and the available jobs will require a higher level of skills.

My questions are what should we do to help prepare our children for the future workforce. Should we introduce computer coding starting in the first grade like they do in Estonia and be fully qualified IT technicians on high schools graduation? Should students be introduced to robots and robotic control systems in grade school?

Should social study classes include working with robotic devices that are interactive? Some observers studying the future of work in a cooperative environment were humans, and machines work together. The machines are doing the routine task and humans applying the higher cognitive skills. We are interacting with Siri and Alexa now, but when they are your everyday work companion, the interactive will be more intense and will demand social protocols.

My final question is how we will employ those that do not have high cognitive or technological skills?

I do not have any smart answers to my questions, and I am interested in readers comments.

Note:  The Sac Bee Influencers chose not to answer my question, but rather decided to look a reducing student hunger. Perhaps a more solvable problem.

Wired: FCC Delays Are Keeping Broadband From Rural School Kids

Across the country, red tape has blocked 750,000 students from access to high speed internet, according to EducationSuperHighway. In Montana alone, 45,000 students live with limited connectivity. “I visited Woodman School and know that the need is there,” said Governor Bullock in a statement to WIRED. “Red tape stands in the way of closing the gap for more than 45,000 Montana students who are still without access to the high-speed internet they need to take advantage of digital learning.”

The full article is HERE.