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February 23, 2016


Bud Byrd

When I was a young boy, I lived with my parents on a farm ...a dairy farm. Each day we milked our cows, containerized most of that milk and sent off to Borden's to be homogenized, pasteurized and productized for sale to the public. We shunted some of our milk off to a wonderful gadget called a “cream separator”. This machine took in raw milk as its input, separated the cream from the whole milk and deposited the cream into containers to be delivered to the local high-priced ice cream store in what we today would call the “organic” market. The cream become a high value cash crop for us. The residual milk from the separator, striped of its butter fat laden cream became a byproduct. In the case of our farm, it became fairly worthless, non-nutritive liquid to be mixed with other food-stuffs for feeding to our hogs.

This cream separator process seems an apt metaphor for how our society seems to be working especially from the education perspective. Much like the milk example, education opportunities for our people follow the rule of skimming the cream from the population. The “cream” is shipped off to higher education institutions to be educated and inducted into society's elite. The non-cream element of our population is left to wither with few marketable work skills developed in primary and secondary education. My question is: How will this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” be harnessed to the benefit of every member of society, the world's population? Unfortunately, without some serious thinking about how the “Internet of Things”, AI, etc. can work to the benefit all people, the technology will be restricted to a toys for amusement to much of society.

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