Column-9: What We Expect Children Who Have Learned Programming to Do

I stated in “The Aim of Programming Education (1)” that the founders of Google, Amazon, and Facebook were fascinated with programming from an early age. However, I am not hoping children who learn programming to become millionaires. I would be happy if they become creators of systems and software that make the world a more livable and enjoyable place.

Of course, some children will not become engineers or creators. Still, I hope they will become people who can use technology around them appropriately. In accident of misdirected money transfer, some people turned to be still using floppy disks. I wish this kind of mistake will not happen anymore. No matter how wonderful technology exists, if it is misinterpreted or not accepted for various reasons, it would not produce good results.

In the past, Japan dominated the world in every field: semiconductors, cars, VHS videos, DVDs, digital cameras, and in the video game industry, Invader games, NES, PlayStation, and so on. Of course, some of them are still leading the world, however, it is foreign companies that are dominating the world market of Internet-related products, electric cars, digital payments, smartphones, games such as Minecraft and Fortnite.

Is this because there are no more talented engineers left in Japan? The answer is no. There are still numerous talented engineers in Japan today. For a variety of reasons, they have chosen not to accept cutting-edge technology but to stay the same. Nonetheless, the time has come to embrace change.

In the near future, Japan’s declining and aging population will create a labor shortage. The key to solving this problem will be the change through digitalization. If we cannot secure workforce, we will need to use technology and other means to change the social structure and increase productivity per worker. For instance, I can handle accounting, labor management, web and pamphlet creation, and other tasks by myself by using IT tools, even without specialized knowledge.

Some professions may be lost due to digitalization. My profession could be one of them. However, when we think about the future of Japan 10 to 20 years ahead, we must accept the changes brought about by digitalization. Digitalization does not mean that all jobs will be replaced by computers. There are many jobs that can only be done by humans, such as schoolteachers and counselors. We will need to be able to distinguish between tasks that should be done by computers and by humans.

I hope that all children, regardless of science students or humanities students, will understand and use new technology appropriately to make the world a better place. I also hope that they will monitor technology closely to ensure that it is not used in wrong ways.

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