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  • You've all been in a bar, right?

  • (Laughter)

  • But have you ever gone to a bar

  • and come out with a $200 million business?

  • That's what happened to us about 10 years ago.

  • We'd had a terrible day.

  • We had this huge client that was killing us.

  • We're a software consulting firm,

  • and we couldn't find a very specific programming skill

  • to help this client deploy a cutting-edge cloud system.

  • We have a bunch of engineers,

  • but none of them could please this client.

  • And we were about to be fired.

  • So we go out to the bar,

  • and we're hanging out with our bartender friend Jeff,

  • and he's doing what all good bartenders do:

  • he's commiserating with us, making us feel better,

  • relating to our pain,

  • saying, "Hey, these guys are overblowing it.

  • Don't worry about it."

  • And finally, he deadpans us and says,

  • "Why don't you send me in there?

  • I can figure it out."

  • So the next morning, we're hanging out in our team meeting,

  • and we're all a little hazy ...

  • (Laughter)

  • and I half-jokingly throw it out there.

  • I say, "Hey, I mean, we're about to be fired."

  • So I say,

  • "Why don't we send in Jeff, the bartender?"

  • (Laughter)

  • And there's some silence, some quizzical looks.

  • Finally, my chief of staff says, "That is a great idea."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Jeff is wicked smart. He's brilliant.

  • He'll figure it out.

  • Let's send him in there."

  • Now, Jeff was not a programmer.

  • In fact, he had dropped out of Penn as a philosophy major.

  • But he was brilliant,

  • and he could go deep on topics,

  • and we were about to be fired.

  • So we sent him in.

  • After a couple days of suspense,

  • Jeff was still there.

  • They hadn't sent him home.

  • I couldn't believe it.

  • What was he doing?

  • Here's what I learned.

  • He had completely disarmed their fixation on the programming skill.

  • And he had changed the conversation,

  • even changing what we were building.

  • The conversation was now about what we were going to build and why.

  • And yes, Jeff figured out how to program the solution,

  • and the client became one of our best references.

  • Back then, we were 200 people,

  • and half of our company was made up of computer science majors or engineers,

  • but our experience with Jeff left us wondering:

  • Could we repeat this through our business?

  • So we changed the way we recruited and trained.

  • And while we still sought after computer engineers and computer science majors,

  • we sprinkled in artists, musicians, writers ...

  • and Jeff's story started to multiply itself throughout our company.

  • Our chief technology officer is an English major,

  • and he was a bike messenger in Manhattan.

  • And today, we're a thousand people,

  • yet still less than a hundred have degrees in computer science or engineering.

  • And yes, we're still a computer consulting firm.

  • We're the number one player in our market.

  • We work with the fastest-growing software package

  • to ever reach 10 billion dollars in annual sales.

  • So it's working.

  • Meanwhile, the push for STEM-based education in this country --

  • science, technology, engineering, mathematics --

  • is fierce.

  • It's in all of our faces.

  • And this is a colossal mistake.

  • Since 2009, STEM majors in the United States

  • have increased by 43 percent,

  • while the humanities have stayed flat.

  • Our past president

  • dedicated over a billion dollars towards STEM education

  • at the expense of other subjects,

  • and our current president

  • recently redirected 200 million dollars of Department of Education funding

  • into computer science.

  • And CEOs are continually complaining about an engineering-starved workforce.

  • These campaigns,

  • coupled with the undeniable success of the tech economy --

  • I mean, let's face it,

  • seven out of the 10 most valuable companies in the world by market cap

  • are technology firms --

  • these things create an assumption

  • that the path of our future workforce will be dominated by STEM.

  • I get it.

  • On paper, it makes sense.

  • It's tempting.

  • But it's totally overblown.

  • It's like, the entire soccer team chases the ball into the corner,

  • because that's where the ball is.

  • We shouldn't overvalue STEM.

  • We shouldn't value the sciences any more than we value the humanities.

  • And there are a couple of reasons.

  • Number one, today's technologies are incredibly intuitive.

  • The reason we've been able to recruit from all disciplines

  • and swivel into specialized skills

  • is because modern systems can be manipulated without writing code.

  • They're like LEGO: easy to put together, easy to learn, even easy to program,

  • given the vast amounts of information that are available for learning.

  • Yes, our workforce needs specialized skill,

  • but that skill requires a far less rigorous and formalized education

  • than it did in the past.

  • Number two, the skills that are imperative and differentiated

  • in a world with intuitive technology

  • are the skills that help us to work together as humans,

  • where the hard work is envisioning the end product

  • and its usefulness,

  • which requires real-world experience and judgment and historical context.

  • What Jeff's story taught us

  • is that the customer was focused on the wrong thing.

  • It's the classic case:

  • the technologist struggling to communicate with the business and the end user,

  • and the business failing to articulate their needs.

  • I see it every day.

  • We are scratching the surface

  • in our ability as humans to communicate and invent together,

  • and while the sciences teach us how to build things,

  • it's the humanities that teach us what to build and why to build them.

  • And they're equally as important,

  • and they're just as hard.

  • It irks me ...

  • when I hear people treat the humanities as a lesser path,

  • as the easier path.

  • Come on!

  • The humanities give us the context of our world.

  • They teach us how to think critically.

  • They are purposely unstructured,

  • while the sciences are purposely structured.

  • They teach us to persuade, they give us our language,

  • which we use to convert our emotions to thought and action.

  • And they need to be on equal footing with the sciences.

  • And yes, you can hire a bunch of artists

  • and build a tech company

  • and have an incredible outcome.

  • Now, I'm not here today to tell you that STEM's bad.

  • I'm not here today to tell you that girls shouldn't code.

  • (Laughter)

  • Please.

  • And that next bridge I drive over

  • or that next elevator we all jump into --

  • let's make sure there's an engineer behind it.

  • (Laughter)

  • But to fall into this paranoia

  • that our future jobs will be dominated by STEM,

  • that's just folly.

  • If you have friends or kids or relatives or grandchildren

  • or nieces or nephews ...

  • encourage them to be whatever they want to be.

  • (Applause)

  • The jobs will be there.

  • Those tech CEOs

  • that are clamoring for STEM grads,

  • you know what they're hiring for?

  • Google, Apple, Facebook.

  • Sixty-five percent of their open job opportunities

  • are non-technical:

  • marketers, designers, project managers, program managers,

  • product managers, lawyers, HR specialists,

  • trainers, coaches, sellers, buyers, on and on.

  • These are the jobs they're hiring for.

  • And if there's one thing that our future workforce needs --

  • and I think we can all agree on this --

  • it's diversity.

  • But that diversity shouldn't end with gender or race.

  • We need a diversity of backgrounds

  • and skills,

  • with introverts and extroverts

  • and leaders and followers.

  • That is our future workforce.

  • And the fact that the technology is getting easier and more accessible

  • frees that workforce up

  • to study whatever they damn well please.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

You've all been in a bar, right?

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【TED】Eric Berridge: Why tech needs the humanities (Why tech needs the humanities | Eric Berridge)

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    林宜悉   posted on 2018/05/22
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