The future of technology promises to be nothing short of revolutionary, leaving a lasting mark on society as we know it. As advancements in artificial intelligence continue to accelerate, the world stands at the precipice of profound transformation. With AI becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is poised to permeate every aspect of our lives, reshaping industries, economies, and the very fabric of human interaction.
Amidst this rapidly evolving societal landscape, in June, aspiring students attended the Aga Khan Centre to partake in illuminate’s 2023 cycle. illuminate offers aspiring students an insight into transformational ideas, with an aim to broaden their horizons and inspire a new generation of change-makers. Each year, the cycle includes a competition with cash prizes and mentorships with experienced academics to help accelerate their pathways to further education. With the 2023 theme on the pivotal role that technology will play in shaping the future of our society, guest speaker Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager for Quizlet and the Curator of ‘Box of Amazing’, provided the keynote speech and ran a workshop with the students.
“The thing about technology is that it all revolves around time, and we are at a cusp of change…your opportunity to change the world is today.”
Rahim Hirji, UK Country Manager, Quizlet
Rahim started his engaging session by encouraging students to look at technology from a different lens. Where much of world associates technology with computers, coding, blockchain or AI, in fact it encompasses so much more. Rahim explains: “Technology is the application of knowledge for achieving practical goals in a reproducible way”. In essence, it involves reframing thought processes, applying intellect, and harnessing the power of the human brain. Technology reflects the advancement of humans. As the session continued, students were encouraged to remember this and actively apply it during their participation.
But Rahim also reiterates that “to learn about the future, you must learn about the past”. Taking the students through the height of the first innovations created by mankind – fire – to how this kickstarted ingenuity, ideas and the speed of advancements, triggering rapid change through the first, second and third industrial revolutions. Rahim then took the students through a simple framework of technology to understand its advancements and implications on a day-to-day basis. This included looking at the simplicity of a technological idea, its ability to cause dramatic disruption, what mass distribution looks like, how scalable an idea is and more.
After Rahim’s opening session, the students were presented with a challenge: a case study to envision how technologies might transform their schools over the next 20 years. Working in groups, this exercise stimulated their imaginations and prompted them to think creatively about the potential impact of emerging technologies on the future of education.
Gurdofarid Miskinzoda, illuminate Project lead and Member of Aga Khan Foundation UK National Committee then introduced this year’s competition to the students. Students were invited to write a short essay, produce a form of multi-media, or create a piece of art on the implications of technology on society or consumers with a specific focus on a business industry. Whilst students are encouraged to be as creative as possible, this year, an exciting new rule allowed students to use AI tools including ChatGPT, Midjourney, Dall-E and more.
Last year’s first prize winner, Gema Torres was also in attendance and spoke to the students about how the competition had impacted her journey. Gema said: “The support I received played a significant role in my success. I managed to secure conditional offers in four of the universities I applied to, as well as an unconditional offer. I received invaluable guidance and assistance. I am eternally thankful for the support.” When passing along her advice to the next cohort, Gema said: “It might seem daunting, but you have your own unique talents and perspectives to offer. Take that leap of faith, and who knows you might find yourself a winner, with a newfound sense of accomplishment and a bright future ahead”.
Once entries are submitted and assessed, applicants will be invited to the awards ceremony taking place in October, at the Ismaili Centre in London. Watch out for more information on the submissions and winners!