Mind the Gap (Fall, 2018)

Ann Kirschner (The Graduate Center)
Guest lecturers, TBA

Tues, 6:30-8:30pm
Course number: 63322
Listed in: Interdisciplinary Studies; MALS; Political Science


Coming soon to your neighborhood…Driverless cars. Stores without cashiers. Supermarkets stocked with food that was harvested by robots and delivered by drones. Restaurant with automated burger flippers. Classrooms stocked with virtual reality headsets and no teachers. Nursing homes with comfort care e-surrogates. Hospitals with virtual doctors. Brain-computer interfaces that cure blindness and fix spinal cord injuries.

Sometimes called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the Second Machine Age, we are on the cusp of an era in which artificial intelligence, automation, genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, to name just a few, are transforming how we live, learn, and earn. In previous eras, major shifts in technology created as many new jobs as they destroyed. Are we doomed to a period of massive unemployment and social unrest? Or is this the new utopia?

Mind the Gap will address this question: As we think about the range of possibilities — from the utopian to the dystopian — what are the policies, technologies, and social systems that should be anticipated today to ensure positive outcomes for the future? The course will examine the historical role of work, the outcomes of previous technological shifts, and the ethical dimensions that should inform our planning for the future. The focus will not only be on technology but on drivers for change, the context in which they are taking place, from changing demographics to globalization to climate change.

The course assumes that technology is not created in a vacuum, that the future is a page not yet written, and that we have a window of time in which business, government, and the individual can proactively adapt and shape a better future.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309