Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power.
An equitable division of knowledge amongst the entire human race is the key to world peace, the end of hunger and injustice, and a step towards a more enlightened global society. Humanity is now at the precipice of an equitable knowledge paradigm, all thanks to the internet.
Knowledge, intelligence, intellect, cognitive prowess, street-smarts, cunning, cleverness, book-smarts, creative and critical thinking. These are all highly valued and sought after characteristics for most human beings, whether to expand one’s mind in the field of academia, or fine-tune that same mind as a professional. It isn’t just cool to be smart anymore, it is imperative if you want to compete in a global marketplace. The political lexicon today includes long-winded discussion about outsourced jobs, brain-drain, and an increasingly competitive economic ecosystem.
The argument here is;stop complaining, and start competing.
Don’t believe knowledge is the key to power? Retrospective glances at the empires of the modern past beg to differ. Knowledge and the subsequent procurement of superior technology has always been the driving force of powerful nations and empires. The Romans ruled the world because they fully utilized cartography and roads, the British mastered maritime commerce and technology, and the US clawed its way to the top of the food – chain by being the first country to develop (and only country to use) nuclear weapons technology. While the rest of Europe lay in ruin after WWII, the United States continued its dominance, and the invention of the silicon chip, the internet, and the breadth of computer technology helped it remain at the number one spot.
Europe rebuilt, Asia caught up, and the internet, with aliases like “the information super highway” and “the world wide web”, now dominates almost all aspects of modern society. No industry is immune to infiltration; almost no market can survive without utilizing internet and computer technology. It has become the lifeline of commerce, finance, trade, and now, education.
We are slowly seeing a regression from the traditional methods of procuring an education. It is safe to assume that almost the entire breadth of human knowledge now resides on the internet, and all one needs to access said knowledge is an internet enabled device, and a connection; the institution of education is being challenged. The information is scattered, more or less, but there are aggregators such as Wikipedia which aim to educate the world for free, and tools such as Google which help the masses traverse the complex labyrinth that the internet can sometimes feel like.
Aside from these “do it yourself” methods, there are also numerous free online schools, with curriculum and material that are identical to what top-tier universities might teach in the areas of math and science (Not vocational training, real university level instruction in math and science). Ivy League universities now broadcast their lectures and publish their materials on the internet for all to see and consume. Forums with resident experts and access to social networks create bi-lateral learning environments, and the inequities of knowledge that gave the western world an unfair advantage in the past are slowly being eroded.
There is the Khan Academy, a non-profit project endorsed by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, which can educate anyone willing to learn math and science in 10 minute snippets. There is the One Laptop per Child project, which aims to deliver an internet enabled laptop to children in socio-economically impoverished regions of the world, giving them social mobility that would otherwise be almost non-existent. There is Academic Earth, which offers online courses from the world’s top scholars, and the Open Yale Program, which gives the entire planet access to Ivy League materials.
These are just a few of the revolutionary ideas and wheels that have been set in motion regarding the equitable allocation of knowledge around the world. The only problem, it seems, is motivation.
How motivated are you to give yourself an Ivy-League education with nothing to show for it at the end other than the knowledge you procured (you won’t be getting a degree). The average American might not be as motivated as someone in a developing country, who isn’t after the education to bolster their resume, but rather to implement real world application of the curriculum, and begin participating in the global competition.
The world has flattened, and American CEO’s are now citing smarter engineers and more intuitive strategists as reasons for outsourcing American jobs. The unfair advantage we used to hold regarding access to knowledge no longer holds true. The fight is now fair.
Will Hunting told a pompous, megalomaniacal Harvard grad student, “You dropped 150 grand on an education that you could have gotten for a buck fifty in late fees from the public library.”
You don’t even need the library anymore.