GRIT - Ed.04 - Flipbook - Page 18
HOW WE LEARN
In conversation with Nadeem Nathoo,
CEO and Co-founder, The Knowlege
Society (TKS); Next 36, 2011
You’re on a mission to help
ambitious young innovators
change the world. What led
you to focus on this?
y brother and co-founder, Navid, and I were always very ambitious, and maximizing the impact
we could have on the world has always been our North Star. We could
have dedicated the rest of our lives
to working on one important problem, but even if we knocked it out of
the park there are still hundreds of
other problems that affect millions
of people. We realized there wasn’t
good infrastructure to maximize
the potential for young people.
School is inherently designed to
mitigate risk, not optimize for success. So the idea was simple — let’s
build an institution that specifically trains people to solve important
problems in the world. This turned
into us building our own education
methodology, community, technology etc. as we iterated.
Young people have proven to
be resilient and flexible when
adapting to the technological
changes of 2020, what do you
think this means for the world’s
next generation of innovators?
Young people today have way
more potential based on hyperconnectivity, better infrastructure, and
access to information. The people
who cure disease, build fully immersive VR, find solutions to meaningfully redistribute wealth and so
on, will come from this generation.
In order for them to achieve these
things, they need guidance and
training on how to problem solve,
improve their relationship with risk,
aim higher and surround themselves
with productive environments versus toxic ones. If they can receive
this, I’m confident that they’ll be
able to achieve some pretty incredible things in a short period of time.
TKS delivers programming in
seven cities across North America.
What were the main operational
challenges you experienced as a
result of COVID-19 and how have
you pivoted to overcome them?
Originally TKS was an in person program. COVID was a different beast because it was affecting local markets in very different
ways which caused municipalities
to also have different policies. Our
goal has always been to provide a
safe and engaging experience for
the students this year, and COVID
was actually a really good forcing
function to help us think of a virtual
model that blows every other virtual experience out of the water. We
were able to make it happen and
provide a fully virtual experience for
students from 20 countries around
the world and even grow on every
metric this year.
is becoming comparable with fossil
fuels. You will likely see a lot more
coal plants shut down, and hopefully more people in rural communities
will have access to off-grid energy.
What data-driven innovations are
you most excited about for 2021?
3) Health tech: We have a very
reactionary healthcare system — we
get sick, then go to the doctor to
get treated. Imagine figuring out
your brakes needed to be replaced
after getting into an accident,
seems silly right? The concept of
health-monitoring is not new, but
this year I’m excited for a few technologies specifically in medical imaging and non-invasive metabolite
monitoring. One of our students,
Ben Nashman, invented a way to
measure blood metabolites like glucose and cholesterol non-invasively.
He’s raised $7M to advance the tech
and will be announcing some exciting news soon.
1) The practical insurgence of
Machine Learning (ML): We’ve all
seen and heard about the really cool
work OpenAI, Deepmind and others
have been doing. But really there’s
so much low hanging fruit to grab
by applying basic ML techniques
to traditional organizations. This
is what companies like Element AI
were trying to do. The problem that
most people aren’t aware of is that
most of these organizations lacked
the suitable infrastructure to apply
ML meaningfully. To be clear, this
isn’t an algorithm or tech issue. Last
year, there was a massive explosion
in ML infrastructure based solutions.
NEXT’s very own Mike Del Balso is
actually building the gold standard
of ML pipelines with Tecton.ai, having raised tens of millions from Andreesen and Sequoia. From a consumer perspective, you will start to
see better service, better quality,
and better experiences this year as
a result of this unsexy infrastructure.
2) Advancements in energy:
There was a lot of hype at TKS
around Tesla’s battery day. Advancement in battery technology
will improve almost every aspect
of our lives, especially in developing countries where batteries are
the limiting factor for applying solar solutions. This year you will continue to see improvements in lithium-ion, lithium-sulphur, graphene
batteries, and faster charging. 2021
will also be a tipping point for solar as the $/kwh in many countries
With the digital disruption in
mind, what advice would you
give to educators looking to
help build the next generation?
Find ways to expose yourself to
what’s happening on the bleeding
edge of the world. After you have
that exposure, you can filter and deliver the content more meaningfully.
The second is to uncap young people’s potential. Grades limit potential. Permission to explore outside
of a rubric for anything that’s not
an important exam, in my opinion,
should be encouraged. Lastly, the
people who have the best grades
are not necessarily the people who
are going to change the world. At
TKS, we look for curiosity, ambition,
and work ethic. Grades effectively
just demonstrate work-ethic and intellectual horsepower. Being able to
identify curiosity and ambition is a
prerequisite to nurture it.