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Technological competence – does everyone need it?

In discussions about digital education, the demand that young people need more technological skills in order to be able to help develop and shape the world of tomorrow by means of innovative technologies of the future regularly crops up. These include logical thinking and basic coding, as well as critical and innovative thinking, etc.

In the back of most people’s minds are the job descriptions of today: software development, data analysis, robotics development and the like. The question is, don’t we fall short when we emphasize so much that we want to introduce all children and young people to the world of zeros and ones and are happy if they can code?

The article reports on the latest achievement of the Google company DeepMind, which placed its AI-based system AlphaCode in the top 54% in a computer programming competition with 5,000 participants. This surprised even experts who currently did not believe that AI could attain the quality of average programmers in classical situations.

However, it turned out that a creative, complex solution orientation cannot yet be mapped via machine learning:

The problems in the competitions are not seen by the AI during training, and that solving them requires a combination of critical thinking, logic, algorithms, coding, and natural language understanding.
Typical problems include finding ways to place roads and buildings within certain boundaries, or developing strategies to win board games.

But AI can certainly develop algorithms further to solve problems, so it is more than just a clumsy processing of previously known routines.

It will be interesting to watch,

  • how fast the development of such AI systems will be,
  • when it approaches the quality of excellent software developers, and
  • whether such systems will one day be able to go beyond their previously intended areas of use.

Finally, the question remains: Do all young people need to learn to code?

Article on Feb. 28, 2022 appeared on piqd as a reference to the BBC article DeepMind AI rivals average human competitive coder

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