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What’s better, robots or writers?

Just a bunch of high school kids playing with robots. From a robotics competition at Reseda High School in November 2014.

I read a wonderful speech from Reseda High School‘s 2015 valedictorian who was a member of the school’s award-winning robotics club. This got me thinking: If I went to Reseda today, would I have gotten into robots instead of becoming a writer?

I do like technology. My job as a technical writer provides a good life for myself and my family. I also believe that technology has benefited society as a whole. It has improved health, extended lifespans, increased and spread knowledge, fed more people, and lifted more people from poverty. It has enabled us to build higher quality products at lower prices. We have even used technology to solve problems caused by technology.

But where do the ideas for technological advances come from?

Many of the innovations we enjoy today sprung from the imagination of writers. Mobile phones? Thank Star Trek. Geostationary satellites? Thank Arthur C. Clarke. Robots? Thank Karel Capek who coined the term, and Isaac Asimov who furthered the concept. Jules Verne imagined humans landing on the moon a century before Apollo 11 and even predicted where the spaceship would launch. Science fiction has inspired engineers. Many technological advances started in the pages of novels, comic books, and TV and movie scripts.

We need people who can design and code. And we also need people who can come up with visions for new inventions, along with warnings about misusing them. We need builders and dreamers. We need engineers and writers.

So, if I went to Reseda today, would I have become a writer or a robotics engineer? I would choose both.

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