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Innovation summit speakers say anyone can learn anything

ASU's Michael Crow says knowledge isn't static, calls for perpetual innovation.
May 10, 2017

ASU, Global Silicon Valley co-sponsor conference dedicated to boosting innovation, technology

There’s no reason that any human being cannot learn anything, Arizona State University President Michael Crow told a group of educators and investors at an annual conference for the learning and talent innovation community.

After his keynote, Crow introduced two Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education winners, including Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College. Shughart picked up on Crow’s idea, noting, "Anyone can learn anything under the right conditions."

He told a story of a German teacher saying some people cannot learn German. “To which the reply is: ‘How fortunate they weren’t born in Germany,’” Shughart said.

Crow and Shughart spoke at the annual ASU/Global Silicon Valley Summit in Salt Lake City. The university and the investment network co-sponsor the conference, which is dedicated to elevating innovation.

The summit brings together investors, educators and innovators. It’s been called the world’s smartest summit: Bill Gates, Common and Condoleeza Rice have all spoken there. In addition to President Crow, this year’s speakers included tennis star Andre Agassi, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and sports broadcaster Ted Robinson.

“I want to actually put something on the table,” Crow said in his address. “What are the actual innovations we need? Not just those that are coming from inventiveness.”

Until 1900, human knowledge doubled every 100 years. Now, basic human knowledge doubles every 13 months.

“What does that mean?” Crow said. “Knowledge is not static.”

He called for perpetual innovation in education, including scaling up to reach millions more students.

“We need technologies that derive value from scale,” he said. “No one’s ready for this. No one is producing this yet.”

He spoke about national service universities, like ASU.

“Knowledge at the university is complex, adaptive and scalable to social speed,” he said. “The predictors of the doom of higher education were wrong. That colleges will cease to exist — wrong.”

We’re infants in terms of what we know and unbelievable in terms of what we can know, Crow said.

“We’ve made subjects that shouldn’t be difficult difficult, like math,” he said. “Every kid that shouldn’t study this or can’t understand that, that’s a social construct. … Those are all our own self-made failures.”

Needed innovations include ways to connect human beings in technologically based learning environments, math and science mastery for all, and development-based assessment.

“I want to make one point: at the heart of everything we do in education … must be this notion of knowledge and knowledge creation,” Crow said. “If we stop and consider everything related to education to be a commodity, everything to be just a process … we will in the long run fail in our process.” 

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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Leader of Google's parent company discusses technology, disruption at ASU

Alphabet's Eric Schmidt talks about world-changing technology at ASU lecture.
Eric Schmidt at ASU: “I live in a world like you, where I want to be disrupted.”
May 15, 2017

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., spoke at lecture series on the 'Creation of the Future'

We're in a golden era of information, science, and technology, said the executive chairman of Google’s parent company in a recent lecture at Arizona State University.

Eric Schmidt, head of Alphabet Inc. and the architect of Google’s immense infrastructure and product offerings, said science may be under attack, but it’s reaching and improving the lives of more and more people.

“Every time there’s a war on science, science wins,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt was the speaker at the annual Frank Rhodes Lecture Series, which reimagines the role of universities, and his talk was the latest example of ASU exposing students to A-list influencers. Recent speakers on campus have included Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, and Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks.

Including ASU, Schmidt has spoken at only four schools this year. The others were Princeton, Harvard and MIT.

Schmidt joined Google in 2001 and helped grow it from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He served as the company's chief executive officer until 2011, overseeing the technical and business strategy alongside founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Under his leadership Google dramatically scaled its infrastructure and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a culture of innovation.

Over the years, Schmidt said, he's learned that successful leaders “just work harder than anyone else. My core advice is if you want to make something happen, you just have to work harder and you can change the world.”

When at Princeton recently, he looked at where he used a computer as an undergrad.

“It has been replaced by an equal-cost in dollar-adjusted inflation price computer that is 100 million times faster,” he said. “Can you imagine how much better I would have done if I had had a computer 100 million times faster?”

Technology is changing the world, he said.

“I live in a world like you, where I want to be disrupted,” Schmidt said. “A lot of people not only don’t want to be disrupted, they will fight you.”

Everything we know is changing because of technology and science, he said.

“The largest taxi company in the world? They don’t own any taxis. The largest accommodation company owns no accommodations. The largest phone company has no infrastructure. The most valuable retailer has no inventory — Alibaba. What’s the largest movie house? Netflix. It has no movie houses. Every single one of those industries is really upset because they’re getting disrupted by technology.”

The "Frank Rhodes Lecture Series on the Creation of the Future: A Lecture Series for a New American University" began in fall 2011 at the direction of ASU President Michael Crow to help advance his vision for a New American University and the need to redefine the role of higher education in society. Each year an individual with a commitment to institutional innovation will visit ASU to deliver a public lecture on the creation of the future as well as meet with members of the ASU and greater community.


Top photo: Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, speaks at the "Frank Rhodes Lecture Series on the Creation of the Future," on Friday, May 12, at the University Club on the Tempe campus. Schmidt talked about the mission of disruptors, such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and, and their critics, especially those who wage war on science. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now