Our Mission

Deep Learning For The Digital Age

The Challenge

The fragmentation of higher education parallels the balkanization of the global community and the new tribalism the Internet has helped create, with each group closed into its own sphere of interests and information, custom-made to confirm its biases. The common element that binds these fragmenting forces, whether in education or the digital world, is that the forces of universalization and emancipation are being undermined by their own technologies.

The university, ever more sophisticated in its specialization, has raised questions about its relevance and capacity to speak to the broader problems that do no fit neatly into an academic niche. Big questions are left unanswered, and often unasked. Filling the vacuum of meaning are demagogues and hacks, peddling shallow solutions to profound problems. If people can only choose between narrow experts who cannot explain why their work matters or popular books explaining everything, they choose meaning, and for a good reason: We cannot live well without answers to big questions about humanity, history, and society – it is precisely anxiety about those questions, about our role in the world and the future of our children, that motivate so much of the extremism in politics. The solution to shallow answers to big questions is not to deny the questions but answer them with depth and responsibility, using the disciplines of the university but linking them to each other and the larger questions that unite us all.

We have information and processing power on orders of magnitude unimaginable even a generation ago. Information has exploded, yet education is in crisis. The very conditions that make the university successful – specialized research – threaten to undermine its relevance and credibility. The fragmentation of higher education parallels the balkanization of the global community and the new tribalism the Internet has helped create, with each group closed into its own sphere of interests and information, custom-made to confirm its biases. The common element that binds these fragmenting forces, whether in education or the digital world, is that the forces of universalization and emancipation are being undermined by their own technologies. The greatest technologies of the last two centuries, the research university and the Internet, created the modern knowledge culture and the information revolution. The research university and the internet are the two most powerful technological inventions since the 19th century.  Yet both face major challenges.