Did NASA Engineers intend to create the iPod?

The Next 100 Years - George FriedmanAs school leaders, predicting the future seems to be an expectation. That expectation comes with one caveat — protect the traditional yet predicting and preparing children for an unclear future. Futures committees, strategic plans, think tanks, and forums all seek to illuminate what the future may hold and how we can “backwards plan” to get there. I just finished a George Friedman’s fascinating book, The Next 100 Years – A Forecast for the 21st Century.  He comments “reasonable people are incapable of predicting the future.” Economists talk about the invisible hand, in which self-interested, short –term activities of people lead to what Adam Smith called the “wealth of nations.” In geopolitics this is the pursuit of short-term self-interest by nations and by their leaders lead, if not to the wealth of nations, then at least to the predictable behavior and, the ability to forecast the shape of the future international system. Think about history as a chess game in which there are many fewer moves than appears to be the case. The better player you are, the more you see the weaknesses of moves, and the number of moves shrinks to a very few. We can apply this principle to the future. We are deeply constrained in what we do by the time and place in which we live. And those actions we do take are foiled with consequences we didn’t intend. When NASA engineers used a microchip to build an on-board computer on a spacecraft, they did not intend to create the iPod.

When we put technology in the hands of children and educators, what was the original intention? What is the intention now?

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