General manager, Latin America, Canada & Caribbean, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services.
I have been one, I have raised one and I am sure it is one of the most difficult periods in life – being a teenager.
During my teenage years the technology that we used included floppy disks, the Walkman and the VCR. There were also typing courses on personal computers that were connected only to the electricity in a wall.
Times have changed so fast with the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) creating new categories of smart devices, infrastructure and customer experiences.
Add social media and we are not talking about a note being passed in a class, we are looking at information being archived in online databases that could live perpetually.
Amidst all these changes it could arguably be one of the hardest times in human history to make sense of technological advances that also have social consequences.
How does a teenager prepare for college and plan for a career that leverages these tools? How do educators and parents effectively support them? How vital is educating teenagers on social skills along with cutting-edge technology to shape the future of the global economy?
I have the privilege of travelling thousands of miles around the world annually while leading the public-sector business in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean for Amazon Web Services. As part of my mandate, I interact with education, government and non-profit organizations, helping them determine how best to utilize cloud, AI, IoT and other technologies.
While it is rewarding to watch innovative organizations build dynamic technology use cases, perhaps the most memorable part of my job is championing participation in the AWS Educate program, which initially focused on educating college students and professors about cloud-computing fundamentals. In December, 2017, the AWS program expanded to secondary and high-school students with education around AI, IoT and cybersecurity. To date, there are over 35 Canadian higher education institutions using the AWS Educate program.
At the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), professor Bill Klug equips students with cloud-computing resources and skills to help them succeed after they finish school, including helping students secure a job. For example, Klug helps students secure employment with AWS partner Cloudreach.
With this impact in higher education, I am excited for the outcomes of educating teenagers with this quality curriculum.
In terms of educating teenagers for college and beyond, there is no doubt that Canada is emerging as a world leader in AI and startup business creation with government organizations such asCIRA supporting Canadian innovation.
With the opportunity for students to be taught best practices, educators are playing a critical role in the development of individuals that may be CEOs of profitable startups before the age of 22. Due to the scalability and ease of use of AI, IoT and machine learning, a fast-thinking and acting teenager or college student can turn an idea into a viable business quicker than ever before.
We are approaching a time where teenagers can do more than launch a business slowly with the help of their parents, and are empowered with the technology, resources and training to do it on their own.
Imagine what this could mean for student athletes. Instead of just playing sports and studying they could conceptualize and create the next generation of AI used by the MLB and NFL to provide Next Gen Stats, helping to change how athletes perform, coaches prepare and fans engage with players and teams.
Depending on how technologies such asblockchain, autonomous cars and yet-to-be-invented innovations impact business, government and every day life, cybersecurity will become increasingly important.
Instead of training students how to type on a green screen, educators are now entrusted with the tools to protect economies. Traditional chemistry projects could be amplified by introducing cybersecurity considerations to determine how to protect a scientific innovation to help identify and diagnose diseases.
This may sound unrealistic for a high-school student, but in 2016, two Stanford University students used AWS technology to determine if deep learning can identify the precursors to blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.
In the future, life-sciences companies may need to protect these types of insights from criminals who not only steal data or mine for cryptocurrency, but could take the information to try to create biological weapons. Teaching today's teenagers – who will be relied upon to solve tomorrow's security threats – will mean businesses can be more proactive in addressing these threats by having a larger talent pool to draw from. Just do a search on the most in-demand jobs today and they are related to these fields. These trends will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Educators that join programs such as AWS Educate are contributing to a valuable cycle of creating new high-school teachers who will teach preschool, kindergarten and elementary-school students how to use the latest technologies when they reach high school.
Lastly, high schools are typically better at addressing gender and racial diversity compared to today's business world. With this setting to provide technology training to individuals from all walks of life, the global economy stands a better chance at having a more diverse future through more equitable access to invaluable skills.
Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.