Machines become increasingly smarter but the education system at least in Germany is old-fashioned and does no address the challenges of the future any longer. Will this lead to unskilled "stupid" people?
There is no doubt - due to their electronic brain machines becomes increasingly smart. Just think about a modern car. The number of integrated microprocessors is growing year by year. Nowadays up to 70 microprocessors are working in a car. Do you remember 30 years ago? There was no electronic at all in the common car - only high-end versions started to integrate electronic functionality. Today this functionality is usual even in the compact cars. And this trend is going on because software is taking over more and more function in the cars.
But this also means the machine, in this case the car, has to be equipped with many sensors and actors to see, hear, feel, smell und react accordingly. In modern cars driver assistant systems support the driver in many ways. Optical sensors measure the distance to the cars in front and adjust the appropriate distance in relation to the actual speed. Lane departure warning systems recognise unintended leaving of the lane and create a warning to the driver. Anti-collision systems evaluate the traffic around the car and react accordingly to avoid a collision. And there are many more examples like anti-lock brake systems, traction control systems, night vision systems and so on which proofs that cars becomes smarter.
And even on the manufacturing floor youll find smart machines. If you look at a modern electronic production line there are many intelligent machines combined to work together. Automated storage systems feeding conveyors which transport the PCBs to assemble to the pick-an-place machines which contain intelligent feeders. These feeders "know" exactly when and in which order the pick-and-place machine needs the components to be placed. The following production step soldering is also accomplished by smart soldering machines which know which board has to be soldered and use the specific soldering profile. And at the end of the production line smart test systems checking the circuit function and analyse possible failures. Due to their intelligence there are only few operators needed to run these lines.
And there is another excellent example of smart machines - robots! Experts forecast a bright future for these autonomous machines. Nowadays robots are integrated into production lines to do precisely hard welding tasks but in future these robots will work close together with human colleagues, will do the housekeeping, support elder or handicapped people during daily life, and in a few years it is planned to do a soccer game between a human team and a robot team. This means there must be extremely smart machines to carry out all his tasks. And it also needs well educated and skilled people to develop, build and use all this smart machines.
But right now the German government realised that the education system in Germany is old-fashioned and doesnt address the challenges of the future. The problem starts already in the nursery school and remains the same up to the University " too less teachers and too less investment. A report states that there are only a few exceptions in the European community - Finland, France, the Netherlands and Norway. These countries have better education systems compared to the rest. Today the German industry is willing to employ nearly 100.000 engineers " but they are not available and this situation will deteriorate. It is expected that this figure will grow until 2020 to 240.000. This is a dangerous situation for a high-tech country which exports its cars and machinery internationally. But forewarned is forearmed. The German government is now seeking for a solution to solve this problem. I hope the politicians will find it because I don't want to imagine a future scenario where smart machines and unskilled "stupid" people are working together on the factory floor.