Tag Archive for 'knowledge'

OSU Fall 2007 Graduation Student Respondent Speech

For my graduation from Oklahoma State University OSU Institute of Technology, I was appointed to make the student response speech. Below is the transcription from my speech.

On behalf of the OSU-Okmulgee* graduating Class of 2007, I would like to welcome: President Klabenes, Dr. Avant, Regent Claude Evans, Regent Andrew Lester, Dr. Pete Coser, Mr. Barry Steichen, distinguished guests, my fellow graduates, family, and friends.

Thank you for sharing with us in our graduation ceremony. I consider it a great honor and privilege to be chosen to give the student response, and thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

So, here we are. It’s hard to believe this moment is real because it is hard to believe that all of your hard work as been completed, but since you know the hard work was real, then this moment must be real too. This accomplishment is the beginning of a change in your life.

Our generation will see a lot of change. We are one of the last generations that will still remember when a computer could not do things that we consider uniquely human. In thirteen years, in the year 2020, a $1,000 computer will have the computational power of the human brain. Now, this does not mean it will be as smart as a human — that will come approximately nine years after that — but a machine will be smart enough to do many jobs that today’s high school graduates can do. With a little imagination, it is needless to say, the value of an education will be even greater than it is today and will really flesh out the meaning of “Knowledge is Power”.

It is estimated that in one week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime during the 18th century. Now, 3000 books are published daily. It is estimated that this year, the human race created more new information than has been created in the past 5000 years. The number of text-messages sent every day exceeds the population of the planet. The cell phones in your pockets… every single cell phone in this building has a more powerful computer than the computer that was used to perform calculations for the Manhattan Project, to build the first nuclear bomb. The Manhattan Project was the single largest undertaking by the American people in the history of the United States. What you carry in your pockets is more powerful than that. And, although technical predictions more than 15 years from now are extremely difficult to do, the one trend that is fairly easy to predict is that by the year 2045, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational power of the entire human race. We live in exponential times.

As overwhelming as that may sound, I do not know which is more baffling: these predictions, or that less than a hundred years ago people did not even want electricity in their homes! If you lost power this cold week, then you probably think this sounds crazy. The funny thing is just how quickly we accept new technology. Less than 7 years ago, Google did not really exist. 2.7 billion searches are performed on Google each month. To whom did we ask those questions 7 years ago?

Ultimately, one question that has baffled students since Ancient times will ring as loud as it ever has: “How much of what I learned in school will I use in real life?” Well, that’s not really the right question to ask. The question to ask is, “How much did I exercise my imagination?”

Even if you never take a job related in your major, then you will still take with you from here as much as the next student will, depending on how hard you worked, of course. You will take away your newly developed skills in time-management, stress-management, critical thinking, problem solving, social skills, and my favorite, sleeping time allocation management. These things can only be gained through the tough experience of higher education, regardless of which subjects you studied. The fact of the matter is that all the hard work you accomplished while at OSU is only the foundation on which you will build everything else for the rest of your life. I can assure you that for you to have made it to graduation, your consciousness is more powerful than it was the first day you stepped foot on this campus.

Everyone measures success differently, and that is fine. I believe every day you are awake is a success because being conscious and self-aware is a miracle. And if you agree with me that the mind is so miraculous, then you must agree that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, Class of 2007 thank you for not wasting your mind. Be ready for change, use your imagination, and ask the tough questions that others do not want you to ask. As Dr. Suess said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”** Congratulation, thank you, and good luck!

* At the time of this graduation, OSU IT was called OSU-Okmulgee, which was still in the process of accreditation to obtain the title of “Institute of Technology”.

** Whether this quote truly originates from Dr. Seuss is debatable, but it is commonly believed to be by him and is a good quote. I was unaware of the dispute at the time of the speech.

See also the press release for the event.