Today’s Lifelong Learners are Mastering the Technologies of the Future

Here’s What Four Udacity Students Think About Our Future

Technologies like Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Self-Driving Cars are often referred to as “emerging technologies” or “technologies of the future.” In some respects this is symbolic — through their potential, these technologies seem to point to an imagined future still on the horizon. But there is some simple truth to this as well — these fields are not all the way here yet. But they’re coming, they’re growing, and demand for talent in these spaces is increasing rapidly.

None of us understands all the implications, and we can’t predict what the future holds. But there are certainly some individuals who are better-positioned to play Nostradamus than others. Udacity students are unique in this regard, in that so many of them are already mastering the specialized skills required to enter these new and exciting fields.

We spoke recently with students in our Self-Driving Car Nanodegree program who are already working in the field. We asked them their thoughts on what the future holds for these emerging technologies, and how we should expect our lives to change. It is fascinating to see the common threads that run through their responses.

For example, we spoke with Robert Ioffe, who is currently a Self-Driving Car Software Engineer at Intel Labs, who had this to say:

My hope is that these technologies can spare us a lot of drudgery, so we can spend more time interacting with other people, and focusing on generating truly creative ideas. Currently, the path from an idea to its implementation is very painful and involves a lot of dull work, which hopefully AI and Deep Learning will take care of. Autonomous Vehicle Technology can free up our time for either additional work time, or time to interact with our friends and family.

Compare this to observations made by Caleb Kirksey a Udacity student who is currently working on autonomous data collection systems for Auro:

One trend that I anticipate is the steady reduction of jobs centered around repetitive tasks. Robots and AI-based software will slowly replace the human role in those processes. This will free people to take on more creative roles and exhibit their unique traits in ways that are difficult to anticipate now.

Beyond the emancipating potential of all these technologies, Caleb made an especially powerful observation regarding autonomous vehicle technology in particular:

Self-driving cars will revolutionize how we live, reclaiming valuable time and reducing needless death through vehicle accidents.

Oren Meiri, who is currently working on a deep learning system at Nexar, highlights an additional string of benefits associated with self-driving car technology:

I believe autonomous vehicles will have an enormous impact to transform cities — the need for fewer city-center car parks, reduction of traffic jams — whole industries such as taxis and deliveries, and our lives, by reducing the number of cars per household and their associated costs, and also by becoming more ecological.

As with the other students we interviewed, he also spoke to the idea that robotics and related fields can free us to pursue new things previously not imagined or thought possible:

In some sectors ‘smarter’ machines will replace human workers. This can already be seen in production lines, security surveillance, and other places. However, like any other technological advancement in history, I believe these technologies will create new industries and open many science and engineering jobs not possible before.

People like Robert, Caleb, and Oren are actively engaged in building our collective futures. The skills they are learning, and the innovations they are contributing to, will change our lives and the way we live them. Who better to look to for an understanding of what the future holds?

Later this week we’ll be publishing an interview with Patrick Kern. Patrick is a Business Computing master student at the HTW Berlin, and also a student in our Self-Driving Car Nanodegree program. When we asked him his thoughts on the future, he made an observation that I think will resonate with anyone contemplating the changes to come:

In such a rapidly changing future, probably the most essential skill will be the ability to learn and adapt to new challenges.

An unwavering commitment to lifelong learning resides at the very core of our mission, and as new and transformative technologies continue to emerge, we must all work together to ensure that no one is left out from the promise and potential of these new days dawning.

Stay tuned for our interview with Patrick Kern, and thank you to Robert, Caleb, and Oren for sharing their stories and their insights!

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This post was written by Christopher Watkins, Senior Writer, Udacity