Update on the open frontiers – 4/29

There are amazing things going on in the wide open frontiers of technology and eduction. Here’s a few articles that caught my eye.


4/6 – American Interest (Peter)Jobs of the Future, Travel Agent EditionArticle suggests demand for travel agents is growing and could even outstrip the supply soon.

How can this possibly be? I thought the ‘net deleted the need for travel agents.

Turns out that the online options are so vast that people need help navigating all the possibilities. So, there is a need for travel agents to help people sort things out.

Another article cited in the discussion indicates that “patient advocates” may become a paid specialty hired by patients. Is becoming so complex to navigate the health care system that there may be opportunities to sell their services on a contract basis to help figure out all this stuff.

4/14 – Wall Street Journal – BitBeat: Blockchains Without Coins Stir Tensions in Bitcoin Community Here’s an issue I hadn’t thought about. (Yes, I know I’m slow to catch on)

One component of why Bitcoin and other cybercurrencies work is that there is a built-in reward for whoever can validate a transaction first. That economic incentive makes people provide the distributed, anonymous computer power to keep the cybercurrency working.

In a blockchain system, such as recording real estate transactions, securities transactions, or voting, there is no economic incentive. Who will provide the powerful computers to do the calculating? The agency running the system? That blows up the privacy angle.

4/22 – Popular Mechanics – The Unmanned X-47B Just Pulled Off a Mid-Air Refueling – Air-to-air refueling is quite complex. The Navy’s unmanned plane (call it a drone) did a refueling on its own. When rolled out to the software in all drones, that will allow them to stay on station for a loooong time.


4/23 – American Interest – ASU Pushes MOOCs into the Mainstream Arizona State University will offer a MOOC program provided by edX for freshman year of education that won’t require an application or upfront payment. Students pay $200 per credit hour after they complete each course. The University will give full credit and allow the class to be transferred elsewhere.

The article points out that this may not be particularly valuable because other schools will probably not allow such courses to be transferred in.

I’m not sure it’s such a bargain because it will still be $6000 for the first year. That may be a good deal compared to a large portion of schools, but is still overpriced by factor of three or five from where it needs to be to be a radical breakout product.

However this is a significant step.

4/14 – American Interest (Jaime) – Grad School’s Equivalent of Uber – Graduate school programs are seen declining enrollment.

Article suggests that is because people are turning to “just in time” education from online sources instead of formal graduate school. As you need training in a task or an area or a topic, you can find something online, gain the knowledge right now, and apply it immediately.

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