2019 Theme: Infinite Learning

The accelerating development of machine learning is beginning to transform the way we live. 

From smart search engines and talking computers to facial recognition and automatic translation, the applications grow, each more sophisticated than the last and each delivering a service that, once upon a time, only human beings could provide.  The smartest systems of today are far from realizing the potential of artificial intelligence.  But they already promise immense changes in work and jobs, the creation of wealth, the management of organizations and how we conduct our daily lives, with much more to come. 

Human Response

As machine intelligence becomes ever more powerful and widespread, it is ultimately up to human intelligence to decide how prosperous or poor it will make us and how our societies and cultures will adapt.  The government of nations, states and provinces have no hope of keeping up with the pace of this change.  It is at the local level – where governments, organizations and citizens connect most closely – that we have the best chance to turning the technology change into human benefit. 

Community Action

Central to that success will be the ability of leaders, employees and citizens to accelerate their own learning.  Coping with machine learning means making revolutionary changes in how, when and where we learn, what skills we adopt, and how education is delivered.  Knowledge must be gained for its own value – but also with deep understanding of the needs of employers today and in the future.  More than knowledge, citizens young and old must build the capacity for continuous learning throughout their lives, with the skilled support of governments and institutions, and the willing participation of employers who can turn skill into innovation and prosperity.  To match the infinite ability of machines to learn, our communities must build their own capacity for infinite learning. 

Infinite Learning is the theme for ICF 2019 Awards Program. Click here to learn more about nominating your community for the 2019 Intelligent Community Awards.

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False Alarmism: Technological Disruption and the U.S. Labor Market, 1850–2015, by Robert D. Atkinson and John Wu, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, May 8, 2017.

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