This Fall I am teaching two courses at FIU in the Honors College:
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution This course is for two semesters. The course starts with an introduction to industrial revolutions and the writings of Carlota Perez. I used to start with Thomas Kuhn, but that was heavy going for undergraduates. Then we read Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell, a researcher at Santa Fe Institute. Stephen Hawking said that complexity will be the science of the 21st century. We finish the semester reading The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur. One of my students, an engineering major, said that every engineer should read this book the first week of engineering school. The book reading is supplemented by several current articles, which are included in this first-semester reading list, Download 4IR Reading List F2018. After setting the stage with Perez' writings, the course moves into an exploration of the technologies of the 4IR--artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, gaming, bio-sensors--to name a few. Much to my surprise, last year the students admitted that they did not know much about the technologies. This year we go deeper into the technologies. 2nd semester we explore the social, economic, political and environmental issues of the 4IR, which the students need to understand to fully function as citizens. Income inequality and the environment are two recurring themes, as I see these topics as the two critical issues of the 21st century. Course project will be to propose what the government will be in 2050. Students work in teams to perfect their collaboration skills.
- Thinking, Design and Impossible Problems This course is for two semesters. For several years I have been teaching a course on thinking disguised as an entrepreneurship course. What I realized is that better thinkers produce better entrepreneurs. This year I am just unabashedly teaching a course on thinking and the real objective is to help the students think like a genius. The readings, the authors, everything except the professor, is about the mental frameworks of genius level people. In part, the course was inspired by the first reading in the course, The Evangelist of Molecular Biology. This article is about James Watson, who won a Noble Prize for his work on DNA, and how he almost became an ornithologist. One day he realized that he would make no real contribution to humanity in ornithology, looked for a new field of study, and found molecular biology and genetics. From this article, I realized that high potential students need to be immersed in the thinking and writings of geniuses in order to better understand their alternatives. First book in the class is Melanie Mitchell's book on complexity (described above). One of the best frameworks for thinking about problems is to model them as a complex system. The second book is Ray Dalio's Principles: Life and Work. Dalio is a legendary hedge fund manager and a well-known advocate for the use of mental frameworks to address problems. Similar thinking and approach to another legend--Charlie Munger. The first-semester reading list Download TDIP READING LIST F2018 also includes several articles. Many of the articles focus on inter-disciplinary approaches to problems and new fields where modeling is being used for the first time, such as mathematics, computer science and neuroscience. Each weekly class the students present their analysis of a different impossible problem and the course project will probably be to explain why art and science will converge in the 21st century. Students can work on all the problems in teams or individually.
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