Ben Olsen (@bendotolsen), educator and expert in data science and its relation to philosophy (Ben has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, and works for the Microsoft Corporation in 21st Century Jobs, Skills, and Employability) has just launched a podcast called Ahead of Our Time, where he interviews the leaders and rebels of today who are mastering the skills of tomorrow.
On the surface, the worlds of data crunching and creating algorithms that run the largest companies and services couldn’t seem any more disconnected from pure philosophical contemplation. But dig deeper and many, including CEOs and hiring managers, are finding important links between philosophy data science (one of the hottest jobs of the 21st century). In his new podcast, Ben is interested in highlighting those links.
For example, he recently interviewed Kristen DiCerbo, one of the world’s leading experts on the future of games in the classroom, as well as a contributor to the largest education company in the world’s study that predicts what skills people will need in 2030 and beyond. Their talk focuses on a future skill of finding the “essence of things out of the big picture” which Ben calls out as a very “philosophical” exercise. “[Philosophy does] the same thing: taking the ‘data points’ of “justice”—anecdotally, intuitionally, and politically, scientifically, and making inferences about that—is the same skill for me as it is to crunch data and make inferences from it.” he notes in the interview.
CEOs in industry back this up: “You take a look at the vast variety of people that move into the profession of being a data scientist — they do come from traditional computer science. There’s a big population that’s coming out of math, especially statistical analysis, and there’s also a big group coming from philosophy,” Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies said on CNBC. “Philosophers understand how to think very logically.” Philosophy News’s Paul Pardi agrees, having created a free online course with Microsoft in Logic and Computational Thinking, making the link between technology work and philosophical tools and techniques explicit.
Topics covered in Ahead of Our Time are broader than data and education and Ben seeks to show how philosophy education can help one move into many different fields and contribute. Guests include game-changers in social transformation, conflict resolution, artificial intelligence, comedy, and more. Ben tries to get to the heart of meaning and purpose, common philosophical themes that students and professors care about. His guests are answering critical questions about our future: what skills do we need to survive and thrive in the coming decades? How do some people rise above the rest to achieve great things? And, most importantly, how can we live meaningful lives in a rapidly changing world?