From extinction to a Terminator-like future, students speak their minds

From extinction to a Terminator-like future, students speak their minds

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“The ability to stand up in front of a crowd and articulate your views or story is so important. You are the stars of Armadale,” Dr Tony Buti told the 26 students representing nine different schools.

The best little rhetoricians from primary schools all over the state are battling it out for a chance to be crowned best public speaker in the state at Parliament House in June.

The Examiner had the privilege of listening to the best from the Armadale electorate at Willandra Primary on Friday, alongside event sponsor and Education Minister, Dr Tony Buti.

Twenty-six students (three from each school) delivered compelling accounts of what they will be doing in the year 2050.

“This is your chance to shine. Remember to speak from your heart, with your head and your hands,” school principal Keryl Caird said.

And shine they did.

Their speeches transported us to a world with flying cars, jetpacks, and robot butlers.

In this imagined future, health was monitored in real-time, and diseases and disorders were cured or treated through nanotechnology.  Cancer was a thing of the 2020s.

Apparently, holograms are all the rage, with rock stars appearing in 3D in your living room. And school drop-offs are a parent-free exercise with children being transported through automated capsules.

Recreation also looks a little different: one can sink into a pilates session with beluga whales, slam dunk to victory in an anti-gravity basketball match, or pop to the moon for a vacay at the latest, greatest resort. Bali? So last decade.

And food also looks a little different – most people survive on bugs, lab-grown meat and nutrient pills.

But many speeches proved that this was not some frivolous thought exercise.

The students were under no illusion that the biggest issue facing their generation in their 30s will be the consequences of unchecked climate change.

“Let’s hope I’ve got a home, and that it’s still on planet Earth,” Quin Dally from Willandra Primary said.

“I want to become an AI specialist, because AI might be able to come up with a solution to this problem. And I genuinely think I could make a difference in this world,” Ted Dirsen from Neerigen Brook Primary said.

But the second-most worrisome (and believable) prophecy was a world in which AI completely displaces traditionally human-powered skills and jobs.

“There’ll be more homelessness and rent will be higher. Robots will have all the jobs. Jobs like authors and teachers will be taken over just like music is being taken over today. I will have done 10-14 jobs in the last 20 years because as quickly as I learn new skills for a new job a robot takes it over,” Rio Morrison from Kingsley Primary School said.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. If there’s one thing kids are famous for, it’s their eternal optimism.

“Where will I be in 2050? I don’t know. But I have goals, dreams, and drive. And I’m excited to see where my determination takes me,” Audrey Bolton from Challis Primary School said.

“It is up to us to steer the future in a way that benefits us all,” Ayaan Chhatwal from Kelmscott Primary said.

“I’m ready to make a better future today,” Aisha Onuoha from Kingsley Primary said.

Willandra’s Quin Dally, Challis’ Audrey Bolton, and Grovelands’ Julianna Brinkworth, were the day’s winners.

Congratulations to Grovelands’ Julianna Brinkworth, Challis’ Audrey Bolton, and Willandra’s Quin Dally who were selected by judges Rob Pearce and Colin Keogh as winners on the day.

They will go on to represent the electorate of Armadale at the state competition at Parliament House on June 21.