In a world created by hackers those who can't hack are the underclass. No matter what you do today, success amounts to a form of hacking, whether you're running a hedge fund or if you're just clipping coupons to get by at the bottom of the economic spectrum.
The problem with suggesting that everybody should learn to program is that the particular tools for learning to program change so much and none of them are really that great. So if you treat it as just a craft you learn, like if you just learn RUBY or Python or some particular thing it doesn't necessarily mean anything in ten years. What you really have to do is get to the deeper concepts behind it all.
So what I really wish for is general literacy in computer science, which is different than learning to program. That I think would empower a lot of people because then you're sort of learning all the programming languages at once and you can learn to think like the people who made them up, and it's not that hard.
I don't think it's really all that technical and I think most people could learn it and that probably is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic, but unfortunately the way people approach it is in this almost rote fashion that doesn't really help people in the long term.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.