Fareed Zakaria on the Knowledge Economy

It’s something of a cliché to say this but
we live in a knowledge economy. Increasingly a person’s ability to command the high wage
is going to depend upon having some skills, having skills that relate to perhaps technology.
It doesn’t always have to be technology but it has to be some kind of value add that you
provide that allows you to command some pricing power in the labor market. How you do that is going to vary from industry
to industry. In some cases it will be doing things that computers do well, a data analyst
for example. In some cases it will be doing things that computers can’t do. A human touch
profession as in nursing and things like that. But whatever it is, you’re going to have to
focus very hard on those skills and the only way you can get those skills is through learning
and through continuous learning. And any company hiring people will recognize that probably
the trait they’re looking for most is not a particular set of skills but the demonstrated
ability to acquire skills. Because any company will realize, I think, that what’s crucial
is not the particular set of skills you have but that you demonstrate a capacity to acquire
them now because a few years from now, a few months from now it might turn out that you
have to acquire new ones. Look at software programmers for example.
Any software programmer knows that within two or three years almost everything they’re
doing right now will be obsolete and they will have to learn a whole new language, depending
on whether you’re talking about mobile, whether you’re talking about apps, whether you’re
talking about traditional computers. And, of course, depending on what the particular
configuration of hardware and software you’re using. So all that keeps changing in many,
many worlds and I think that because of it the information revolution it’s going happen
even more so in worlds that we don’t usually think of changing. Accreditation is in some way are the holy
grail of education. The reason that American universities are able to charge the extraordinary
price they charge is because employers around the world believe that this is the single
best sorting mechanism they have to figure out whom to hire. So that if you have an undergraduate
degree from Harvard or the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, a bank — particularly if
it’s in majoring in economics — a bank is going to think: “Of the 20,000 applications
we get for our entry 300 positions, these are some very good filters.” We look at the people who went to Harvard
and Wharton and Stanford and things like that. If you’re looking for people who are software
programmers, if they have gone to a good computer science program at a good university you assume
that’s a very good way to filter down. And then you probably go through the interviews
and things like that. But what is somebody came to a — what if somebody came to a technology
company or a bank and said, “Look, I don’t have the degree that you’re looking for but
I did take 25 courses online from these five online MOOCs, many of which are Stanford courses
and Harvard courses and MIT courses. And here’s how I did and here is a piece of paper or
pieces of paper that prove, that demonstrate that I finished those courses, the grades
I got on them, et cetera.” If employers start treating those pieces of
paper, those accreditations as worth a lot, that completely changes the nature of education
because then you are not, you know, what you are being paid for is really outcome related.
It is related to what skills have you acquired rather than process related. Did you go to
a four-year bricks and mortar college and live in the dorms with other people. Some
people may still value that latter one. By the way it may still be worthwhile for some
people to pay that because of the network effect because of the people you meet at a
Harvard or a Yale. But you could imagine that that would not be true at universities one
tier down or certainly two tiers down. And in any case, it would place huge pressure
on the pricing model because all of a sudden people are able to access many of the skills
that you’re being taught in top universities at a fraction of the price. So the key here
is whether the employers begin to view accreditation as an outcome based process on skills as opposed
to a kind of a process in which it’s very important that you’ve spent the four years
at the college and acquired the full rounded education that that college provides.

31 thoughts on “Fareed Zakaria on the Knowledge Economy

  1.  He was suspended for a week in August 2012 while Time and CNN investigated an allegation of plagiarism[8] involving an 20 August Zakaria column on gun control with similarities to a New Yorker article by Jill Lepore. In a statement Zakaria apologized "unreservedly," saying that he had made "a terrible mistake."[9][10][11] Six days later, after a review of his research notes and years of prior commentary, Time and CNN reinstated Zakaria. Time described the incident as "isolated" and "unintentional"; and CNN said, “we found nothing that merited continuing the suspension…. Zakaria has apologized for a journalistic lapse."[

  2. I think this is a great point but a bit short in it's scope. The ultimate value of the Knowledge Economy is the ability to acquire information that allows you to bypass employment altogether. The ability to turn information directly into a livelihood without the need to find a job as it were.  

  3. "To command a high salary, you need value-added skills"
    Fareed, go look up "tautology" in a dictionary.
    Seriously, this talk was all buzzwords and zero insight, much like most of the drivel he publishes.

  4. That's kind of not at all what the "knowledge economy" means. I'm sure more people will present this sentiment. I don't feel the need to elaborate. 

  5. In Indonesia, they have a program of "skill school" (I don't know the exact English term for it) to go right after high school, and some employers do find and employ people who go to the skill school rather than university. This program has been enhanced by the government recently, I suppose they're trying to make economy better by trying to change the economic mechanism, since it is cheaper, faster, easier, thus more efficient to go to a skill school rather? But that would only make us workers and not thinkers, how is that better if we're not able to think for ourselves and thus not able to figure out ways to better the economy, country

  6. The biggest opportunities right now are those in the areas of data-transit efficiency. Software architects that understand how to optimize data-transit in order to attract currency will be able to create economic improvement.

  7. What I've also seen.. Consider that the degrees from large 4-year institutions in computer science/graphic design/mobile design/etc are largely taught by professors who may have not worked in the industry for a number of years, if ever at all. In these professions all that matters is your Portfolio: Which showcases what you can create/design/program more than a piece of paper ever could.

  8. I think it's very important to spend time in physical university to build the network and to live with the people of that particular network to know them, without that feeling i think it's very difficult to develop the required mindset for any profession. One needs to do those crazy long talks and exercises and experiments about the subjects they have to study with his peers. Online courses are good to study more about those things or may be to develop some new skills which are helpful to grow further in that profession. I m able to understand who is good and who is not worth it in my profession because i have spend time with the people of that mindset in the physical school and institutes and university.

  9. BUT… But I like having a vast knowledge and learning about very different fields, it's so unfair for me, for us, because today you really need to know very well ONE thing to succeed, but to be very good at that ONE thing you have to dedicate your time to that ONE thing.
    I was born to late I guess 😀

  10. I'm not sure how an Economy of knowledge is helpful. If by economy, you mean a market of available resources, then I would contend that the kind of competition implicit in such a process, is detrimental to the pursuit of knowledge.

    In one possible scenario, let us say that hospital A has information about one aspect of a certain type of cancer, and is developing a medication to shrink the size of tumors, and hospital B is working on a way to stop cancer from traveling through the lymph nodes. If the two were never to communicate, and partake in the sort of open dialogue with which science is dependent, they might overlook a very serious area of overlap; they might discover that the same information that is applicable to the transfer of cancer, may have relevance to its amassing. They may even find their treatments ineffective, yet in the exchange of data, it may turn up that each was better suited to aid in the other's capacity, far from what had been expected. A lot of good science has come about by accidents. "You never know unless you try" and you never try if you are allowed.  

    The point being, if we were to take the same scenario, and the two hospitals were in a position wherein they would have to compete for the same resources and information, they may not only withhold valuable knowledge, they may act to prevent the other from gaining the upper-hand, at the expense of countless lives, so as to ensure public dependency on a single source of the best solutions.

    With research hidden behind a "pay wall", the peer-reviewed process breaks down- without diligent and astute criticism, it can never grow and advance as a field, and we may never fully regain the valuable insight it might have had. Learning is contingent upon cooperation, reciprocal altruism, and an understanding of mutual benefit. 

    When we commodity knowledge, no one is the wiser, and everyone loses. 

    I take his point with respect to the metrics of accreditation, and in large part agree, however I think he seems to have ignored his most basic premise: that how we evaluate skills sets is not flawed, it is misguided. He's offering a way to get around one small problem, without glancing at the big picture. 

  11. question: at the end of the video, Mr. Kaku pointed out that some of people whose left brains injured become supergenius. i've got an idea: is it possible that one day if we figure out which parts of left brain matter or relate to "beautiful accidents", then we human being is able to MAKE supergenius based on the guidelines? Thank you.

  12. Good insights. Online education will kill lower tiers universities unless they differentiate themselves by offering value that online cannot. The top schools will remain competitive as most already offer value beyond just classroom teaching

  13. Important perspective. Accreditation of online learning "institutions" seems the next step in broadening educational opportunities. That said, I still believe that those "general education" courses many of us dreaded at the time provide us with important perspectives and skills as well.  

  14. I always enjoy listening to journalists, economists, pseudophilosophers, etc. talking about science, engineering and other things they know nothing about.
    It's been 11 years since the first 64-bit x86 processor and 9 years since the first multicore processor and most software is still 32-bits and doesn't support multithreading. C and its variants have been the language of choice for solid 30+ years now. Where the hell are all those software programmers who costantly change paradigms this guy is talking about?

  15. Moje bi e blizo vremeto kogato inovativnite tehnologi i proizvodnite im produkti shte izprevariat obucenieto v universitetite,trebva inovativno da se promeni i obucenieto.Kogato covek natrupa mnogo znania v dadena profesia e goliam plyus no i minus mnogoto znania sazdavat redica ot peripeti za naucno otkritie ili reshavane na cisto tehnologicen problem i ne se vigdat redica preki patishta za reshenieto im.

  16. I'm afraid to say this is not a definition of a term "knowledge economy" if perhaps the video title is promising. The term has been popularized from an economical perspective where the focus is on transition of the agricultural and labor intensive economies trough industrial economy and advancing to the service oriented economy. Within this evolutionary path, education is playing an important role here for sure.
    The second part of the video is about the evolution of the education system with considering MOOCs coming into play which is not relevant either. So I suggest a change of the title to something like "Importance of higher education and possible future changes".

  17. Today, there's a supreme example a knowledge based economy AND a means to create a currency around it (tokens stored on a secure blockchain) … see curecoin.net 🙂

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