Moonshots in Education: AC Goes to the 2nd China-US Education Summit

October is the 60th anniversary of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. Sputnik ignited a huge debate over education reform in the United States, a debate that produced many of the reforms that laid the groundwork for US science and math education. A similar type of debate has surfaced again as different countries try to position their education systems for an AI-powered future. The Augmented City Podcast reports from Stanford University where the 2nd China-US Education Summit: Moonshots in Education Happened Last Week.

This October marks the 60th Anniversary of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. Sputnik caused an earthquake in American education policy. In 1958, Congress passed National Defense Education Act, which funneled huge amounts of federal money and reform at all levels of curriculums and teaching methods. Things we take for granted today such as chemistry and biology labs in high schools resulted from education reforms enacted soon after Sputnik.

One of the iconic phrases from that time and the Space Age is “Moonshot”. It was evoked by JFK to call on NASA to send a man to the moon and return him safe to earth within a decade. The fact that the US actually met Kennedy’s challenge helped brand the idea of Moonshots into any audacious, difficult and unique national effort. 

Circa 2017, we’re hearing education reformers, entrepreneurs and investors invoke the idea of a Moonshot to describe how to prepare societies for an AI-centric future. What’s more, we’re not just hearing American speakers use the term Moonshot to describe their aims.

On October 9th at Stanford University, the Augmented City podcast participated in the Second China-US Education Summit. The summit was organized by The China Education 30 Forum, a new think tank comprised of leading Chinese educators, scientists, entrepreneurs and investors who aim to re-form China’s education system for the age of Artificial Intelligence.

The sub-title of the summit was “Moonshots in Education — How Technology Transforms the Future of Education”. The summit featured speakers from both the US and China who tackled questions that ranged from creating learning environments that empowered students to the differences between data, information and knowledge to global co-innovation in education to closing the creativity gap and many others.

Just like Sputnik gave people a tangible example for why we needed to reform education for the space age, so did AI provide each speaker at Stanford with a hook for talking about 21st century education reform.

The meeting at Stanford by some of China’s leading education reformers underscores both the importance of education as well as the fact that no nation currently holds all the cards to make things work. As one speaker declared, we must all become hybrid thinkers and hybrid educators if we’re to reap the benefits of an AI-powered future. 



The Second China-US Education Summit: Moonshots in Education

Stanford University

9 October 2017



1.) Zhenguo Yuan, Academic Committee Member of CE30, Professor of East China Normal University, Vice-President of the Chinese Education Society

2.) Ms. Esther Wojcicki, internationally known educator, speaker, teacher, author of Moonshots in Education

3.) Professor Kai-Ming Cheng, Member of CE30, Emeritus Professor, former Vice-President of the University of Hong Kong

4.) Will Weisman, Executive Director of Singularity University

5.) Professor Hsin Kang Chang, Academic Committee Member of CE30, Emeritus President of City University of Hong Kong

6.) Mr. Michael Kuan, founder and chairman of Kuan Capital, investor of Singularity University, global advisor of TEDx, founding member of CE30 Enterprise Council

7.) Mr. John Chisholm, Trustee of MIT Corporation, ex-president of MIT Alumni Association

8.) Professor Quanyu Huang, Professor of Miami University, Author of “The Hybrid Tiger: Secrets of the Extraordinary Success of Asian-American Kids”

9.) Mr. Andy Lam, co-founder and partner of Uprising, physician, engineer and entrepreneur