Big Ideas Pose Big Challenges—But the Payoff is Huge / by TI

ABU DHABI — The intersection of culture and code. The balance of privacy and progress. Skills acquired online, in person and outside the traditional classroom.

These and other big ideas were among the topics that panelists and speakers explored Wednesday during the afternoon session of the “What’s Next? Navigating Global Challenges with the Innovation Generation”, presented by The Atlantic in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The event, underwritten by Boeing, featured an array of panelists, moderators and speakers from a number of sectors including education, government, technology and elsewhere speaking on the ways that a connected world continues to change at an ever quickening pace.

The notion of where expertise comes from—whether it’s the traditional classroom, an ongoing education program, real-world experience or even less formal pathways—loomed large in sessions focusing on technology and society.

Brad Hargreaves, co-founder and chief product officer of the General Assembly education network, walked through the culture of open and transparent innovation in the technology ecosystem. His company works to keep creative and technology professionals current on a number of professional standards.

Hargreaves said he thinks many businesses no longer use the traditional degree as an indicator of skill, at least not as much as they have in the past.

“I believe one of the biggest challenges facing the creative class is that everything is changing so quickly,” Hargreaves said in an pre-event interview. “The technologies you needed to be a successful web developer ten years ago are totally different from the technologies you need to know today. So I believe we’re moving away from a world in which individuals go to school for 18 years and then are out in the workforce and don’t need to be reskilled. We need shorter, more packed forms of education that allow people to keep their skills fresh, especially creative individuals.”

The value of experience and the hands-on connection people get with physical interaction—as opposed to strictly online interaction—also came up earlier in the afternoon, during a session on Facebook.