Code school diary: The importance of embracing both change and the future

I remember my father telling me, “If you want something out of life, you need to go out and get it.”

Words of wisdom indeed. In my father’s day, that was the hard truth. To make and keep friends, you had to communicate with them face to face.

To make that life changing business deal, you had to physically go to that important meeting. To hear a person saying they are doing research, you knew they were at the library.

But something has changed in those wonderful words of wisdom. Words like “let’s go do research” have been replaced with “let me Google that for you” and that deal-changing meeting can be accomplished even if the participants are in two different continents.

Even the friends we make don’t have to be in the same country as us.

I am a coding student. I am learning system development at a time when we as human kind have opened up the door to the technological equivalent of Narnia.

My studies have opened up my eyes to the fact that we, as a human race, have gone down a rabbit hole and a weird and wonderful world awaits us. Life as we’ve known it has and will continue to change.

Which brings me to the now of things. The reason I am writing this now. My answer to a big question that people seem to ask. “How do we just adapt to all these things being done to us?” And I guess there is no real answer to this, but I will walk you through my whys. Why I think things are getting better.

I was also sceptical of change. Things were happening too fast. How long would it be before robots took over? what if ‘Terminator’ wasn’t so far fetched? Until I went into the WeThinkCode_ course. Studying the software development side of things has dropped the coins from my eyes. I was blind but now I see.

Close your eyes and imagine with me, if you will.  A world where cancer patients could be cured no matter what type of cancer they have. Where a person who literally lost and arm and a leg can get them back. Where being blind or deaf doesn’t mean you will never hear or see again.

Now open your eyes and look around. This is the age in which we live. People have been mapping and matching algorithms, using code, to try find which medication go best with which cancer. Robotic arms and implants have been invented that can give you back your limbs, sight or hearing.

So my “why” comes down to “why not?” Look at the benefits of embracing this change. I’m personally glad that I will be part of it.

Being able to have the potential to invent or code something that can change our world would be a huge dream come true. Imagine inventing something that improves the air quality around us. Or a better system of retrieving, cleaning and distributing water to poor communities.

Certainly, there are some things that will change; “Go out and get it” can mean stay in and code it. Where project managers for example can be coded rather than hired but with any kind of change, some things must be adapted. That is what change is. The sooner we accept the hard parts, then we can start benefitting from the almost magical things that are happening already.

Written by Colin Radebe

This story is part of a regular series written for htxt.africa by students of WeThinkCode_, a revolutionary new teaching college in downtown Johannesburg, reflecting on what it’s like to be a young technologist starting out in South Africa today. Find out more about WeThinkCode_ here.

This article was originally published on htxt.africa on 30 July 2016.

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