Gradually, then suddenly

This seems to be the way so many things in life happen.  Small changes begin to accumulate and then suddenly, things change.

This quote comes from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises in which a character named Mike is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.”

Technological change and the effect it continues to have on education, academia and how this applies to careers, jobs, and lives happens in much the same way. Small changes accumulate, and suddenly the world is a different place.

Just take a look at some of the latest applications of AI in robots and services coming out of China.

The pervasive effects of AI and algorithmic systems on society and the economy are in the middle of their “gradually, then suddenly” transition right now, and our education and learning needs to keep pace.

In the overwhelming trend of knowledge on demand, ‘structural literacy’ holds that the supporting role of coursework is to get you to the point where you can take in and use on-demand knowledge.  The Academia Arabia Library of Arabic research, Arabic theses, books, reports, etc. provides this on-demand knowledge in an academic setting with a vast wealth of electronic Arabic content.

What’s too often overlooked is how education and cognitive augmentation go hand in hand. The reason Uber and Lyft have a seemingly unlimited supply of drivers is because no training is required; the app itself does the heavy lifting of telling the driver where to pick up the passenger and how to get to the destination.  This is called “performance-adjacent learning.”

AI and algorithms are everywhere

We are seeing new kinds of partnerships between humans and machines. We take for granted that algorithmic systems do much of the work at online sites like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter, but we haven’t fully grasped the implications. These systems are hybrids of human and machine. Uber, Lyft, and Amazon Robotics brought this pattern to the physical world, reframing the corporation as a vast, buzzing network of humans both guiding and guided by machines. In these systems, the algorithms decide who gets what and why; they’re changing the fundamentals of market coordination in ways that gradually, then suddenly, will become apparent.

Increasingly, companies are demonstrating innovative thinking and new ways of approaching the issue. One example, as Dell EMC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey SVP Mohammed Amin noted while speaking at the Arabian Business Forum in the fall of 2018, is that employers in the future will focus more on the “innovative” potential of job candidates, to determine the probability of them being able to adapt to new business models. As Amin says: “When machines are next to us, they will take all the jobs that take our time and they will allow us to unleash our ideas.”

Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy believes, “The world we’re going into must be a mastery-based world, where students have to be able to have the agency to fill in those knowledge gaps as necessary,” he says. “If you don’t know it yet, it doesn’t mean you’re not smart; keep working on it, and you might know it eventually. This type of learning won’t stop when you’re 18 or 21. It’s going to be a continuous process.”

So, if we keep gradually learning, maybe we’ll be ready for the coming “suddenlies” that this life guarantees us.  Academia Arabia can help you be ready for the road ahead.

Academia Arabia Library, the first online research library of its kind, offers readers unrivalled access to hundreds of thousands of full-text searchable e-books, journal articles, research reports, theses and dissertations from the leading research and publishing houses across the Middle East and Asia. Members are provided with instant and unlimited access to Arabic materials across 30 subjects. In addition to online access, members can download books to their devices, as well as publish, share and track their research. Membership plans are available in monthly, 3 months, 9 months, and annual plans.  For more information, or to get access now: