Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The future of RDM

Hi - I’m interested in looking into education in Heijplaat, specifically exploring the future of the RDM. 

Today in 2016 universities are facing a future of uncertainty: Institution, administrative and technological costs are rising whilst at the same time governments have concluded that they are no longer able to subsidise universities as generously as they used to. Some analysts are predicting mass bankruptcies within two decades.

 A technical revolution is also threatening the traditional higher education business model. Huge increases in online learning, much of it at low cost, means that education previously exclusive to the elite is now available to anyone with a connected device. A number of online competitors to traditional universities have surfaced since 2008 such as edX.

Demand for higher education is also rapidly increasing - developments in machine intelligence are enabling automation to creep into new sectors of the economy. A paper produced by Oxford University in 2014 predicts that 47% of occupations could be automated in the next few decades. These trends are having the net effect of decreasing the number of jobs requiring a ‘middling education’ and many, now able to access cheaper education, are completing courses online in order to stay ahead of the labour-demand curve. 

These trends will undoubtedly effect the future of the RDM innovation centre in Heijplaat. In order to stay competitive it will be forced to expand its subject range and seamlessly combine online and VR learning with on-campus practical teaching to remain at the forefront of education and innovation. Tutors, academics, researchers and students working at the university will still exist (many will live in Heijplaat as discussed), but their numbers will be relatively small compared to the thousands (perhaps millions) of students and professionals who will be taking and delivering courses online and making research contributions to the university from all over the world.  

Artificial intelligence breakthroughs by the RDM that predict consumer needs (as explored in Steve’s narrative) could play a key role in the transition of a capitalist system into socialist one. There will an increased awareness over forthcoming decades that the current economic model is driving drastic climate change. A breakthrough that predicts and meets consumer demand using artificial intelligence in a world of material abundance would reduce cost, waste and excess whilst maintaining a similar quality of life to which the European population are accustomed. Simultaneously decreasing production costs due to increasing automation and information sharing combined with the new intelligent distribution system could potentially render the traditional economic model obsolete.

Breakthroughs by the RDM in artificial intelligence will place it on the global map and the university alongside the distribution centre will continue to expand and grow throughout the 21st Century. I would theorise that the rate of this expansion won’t be equally reflected in increased employment opportunities in Heijplaat. Physical expansion will occur, but instead of increased academic accommodation, monumental spaces will be required to host the servers, computers and robots that support the online community and also the data accumulated to support its consumer prediction programme. Perhaps as the university expands, robots are programmed to replicate and build accommodation for themselves with limited human input. Exponential physical growth may occur in bursts reflected by the ebbs and flows of educational and consumer demand throughout the century. This will undoubtedly cause conflict amongst residents and academics as jobs are put at risks and residential areas become dwarfed by cyber accommodation.

I’m currently working on how this idea will be represented and spacialised for the symposium. More to follow.

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