Students receive insightful lecture from National Technology Adviser
On Friday 27 April, Liam Maxwell the National Technology Adviser for HM Government, came in to speak to Years 10 and 12 as part of the Speakers for Schools ‘What Skills Will Young People Need For Work in 2030?’ campaign.
Year 12 students Thomas and Nikita gave their experiences of the insightful lecture:
Thomas Horsman – Year 12
Liam Maxwell, the first in his position as Technology Advisor at the Government came in to speak to us about technology and how it affects us and our future. Liam talked about moving into a cashless world and how physical money could become obsolete, instead moving on to a digital way of paying such as Apple Pay, and being able to give your friend virtual cash just by using a service like Apple Pay Cash. I asked him about his work in the government, and he says his team are working on a better way to identify people, moving into a more advanced system that can identify anyone and give information about them when needed, possibly as a chip in our phones or even in humans themselves, although this may be some time off yet. The talk was very interesting and enlightened me on how our government is planning on using technology to bring our country into a more digital and modern world.
Nikita Cook Smith Year 12
Our recent assembly with Liam Maxwell, a civil servant, was not only an interesting assembly, but an exciting assembly. I have never personally thought about working for the Civil Service, and was never entirely clear on how many layers there are, or what tasks each department deals with. First and foremost, this assembly was informative, but once Liam got more into the details of his job, and into the details of jobs that were extremely likely to be filled by people our age, it became something I was actively interested in learning more about.
The topic I was most interested in was the topic about artificial intelligence, and how AI will soon be, and already is, in many industries, taking over many jobs. As both a science student and a science fiction enthusiast, this was hugely exciting. It definitely opened my eyes to how few restrictions there will be in terms of engineering in the new future; if you have an interest in engineering, there will almost definitely be a job in any other field you have an interest in.
Liam highlighted many times that, although STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) are pushed the most in our current education, Art and Graphic Design are becoming more and more valued as skills and degrees, due to the increase of technology. Although I am not good at art, I know that with my keen interest and passion for science, I know that I have skills that will be sought after in many fields, as there are certain things that (as of yet) robots and artificial intelligence can’t imitate. However, this did raise a concern that people who don’t possess skills in the “STEAM” subjects could be losing out on jobs because of technology taking over so much in terms of “layman” jobs. Not everyone is good at science, or understands numbers in great detail, and so there may be many opportunities lost for people.
I questioned Liam whether there would be a change to the education system to promote better learning of STEM skills, or whether there would be some kind of living bursary to people who cannot get jobs in workplaces due to their skills lying in other places. He explained that, while robots are very good at doing what they’re programmed to, and while artificial intelligence can learn so many things, there would still have to be a person who is skilled in the particular job that the technology will be performing. Therefore, a builder would still supervise technology that is building a house, to ensure that the job is being done correctly. He also shared that, due to the emphasis on STEM subjects, jobs such as these would still be highly sought after, and so there would not be too much of an overall loss for people.
Another thing I was interested in was the types of jobs that would be available in the Civil Service. As someone with a strong sense of morality, I didn’t know whether working as a civil servant would be the job for me, as Liam mentioned that there are lots of decisions to be made. He told us that AI is used to make many decisions, as they will compute the data they are given, and give an answer based solely on the data. This brought me to the question: when do we decide to stop? Will there be a point that we have to say “this is the line”, in terms of computers and robots etc. making our decisions for us and doing our jobs? It’s very easy to implement technology into daily life, we already use so much already, but if we continue, soon there will be very little left for us to do, especially if we continue at the rate that we are currently going. Liam found this question and my opinions about it fascinating, and we spent a good five minutes discussing the morality of continuing, and of the seemingly inevitable “technology takeover”, which very much could be a robot revolution of epic science fiction proportions.
Liam told us that questions such as these are what the civil service look for, questions and ideas that are outside the box. He was enthused that, even in the small group of 7 or 8 people that stayed after the assembly to ask further questions, there were so many different view-points, and areas of concern. For example, some of the boys who stayed behind were very concerned about security and identity.
Definitely, this talk has given me a lot to think about, and also has given me many things to work towards. I really enjoyed expanding my views of industries and companies, and also found it exciting to test Liam’s views of things too. The Civil Service is a door that I didn’t previously know I wanted to open, but now that I know more about what I could be doing within the service, I believe that it definitely isn’t a door I’ll be closing too quickly.
Many big thanks to Liam Maxwell, and to the school for arranging this opportunity.