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tv   NCTA President Michael Powell Delivers Commencement Address at Pepperdine...  CSPAN  May 31, 2016 3:43am-4:01am EDT

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telecommunications association. later, we will show you nasa astronaut jeanette epps, and oracle founder larry ellison. nca chair michael powell was a commencement speaker for pepperdine university in malibu, california. he talked about the effects of technology on society, and the importance of a liberal art education. he also shared how an injury he sustained in the military taught him about relationships and perseverance. mr. powell is the son of former secretary of state, colin powell. his remarks are 15 minutes. mr. powell: good, glorious morning, it is a pleasure to be here. i want to start off by thinking the provost and the faculty, the president and the administration, and the students for bestowing upon me the exceptional honor of joining the pepperdine community.
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this will be a day i will long cherish. i am really thrilled to be here. as i look out on this assembled crowd, i see a lot of joy in the faces of all of you. as you are clad in your caps and gowns, and prepared to enter the working world. from my perch, there needs to be a pause for concern. why? because the robots are rising. the cars are driving themselves, and computers are humiliating human beings in contests of the wit, the most recent example,
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the google computer that annihilated the reigning champion in a game of go, a 2500-year-old game so, there are more moves than there are atoms in the universe. machines seem poised to replace workers. it might be understandable if you're sitting there questioning whether your years of liberal arts study have done much to make you valuable in this ex machina utopia that is unfolding ahead of you. are you destined for a life of r2d2's nursemaid, keeping him comfortable, maybe reading tolstoy or plato to pass the time? i know that millennials cherish --ir digital ways, but i are but i worry that you are lured to your demise. when you are tweeting and retreating, posting and reposting, chatting and re-chatting, the machines are modeling your behavior, learning your skills they can cast you in a corner and leave you suckling your iphone while they can do the work that drives our
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economy. does the liberal arts student have a chance these days? there certainly is a chorus of critics who say, no. to the minds of these naysayers, liberal arts college is an extensive system that produces well read students with no practical skills. to them the arts and humanities should be pushed aside and replaced with science, technology, engineering, math, and of course, coding. my god, everybody has got to go. well, i say these academy-haters are wrong. [applause] michael powell: the value of a liberal arts education is not fading. to the contrary, i believe it is the greatest task to be accomplished in the modern digital age require women and men to have a broad knowledge, deep intellectual curiosity, and
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above all, a strong moral sense. this is exactly what liberal arts colleges produce, and with the world sorely needs. the world needs you. while at creative destruction and disruption is the narrative of tech glory, they are deconstructing and eroding traditional institutions, changing societal values, convulsing political and economic systems and changing the nature of human relationships. making sense of it all requires more than coders and technocrats, it requires the perspective of a historian, the insights of the sociologist, and the reflections of the philosopher. weapons are not what will halt the spread of terrorism and religious extremism. what will our people who comprehended the fundamentals of religion, understand its true purpose and can find the path to
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restore the true meaning of faith, forgiveness, and peace. in the digital age, the only constant is change itself. a large number of jobs today did not exist five years ago. the furious explosion of technology makes it impossible to predict the world in five years, let alone 50. in order for this ever-changing world, the future belongs to those who are adaptable. those who can change directions, reinvent themselves, spot new opportunities, and continuously innovate. liberal arts study has molded you into that type of person. valuable, the most thing you have been taught is how to teach yourself. you are capable of lifelong learning, and that gives you a competitive edge in an unpredictable world. but making a meaningful life goes well beyond adapting
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to whatever vocation awaits you. in a world where many tasks are being mastered by machines, you will have to rely on the one thing that most distinguishes you from circuits and silicon, and that is your humanity. to cultivate your humanity, you much consciously move beyond the career-centered work of selecting data, accumulating information, and acquiring knowledge. a purposeful life, instead, is found in a steady and graceful and humble pursuit of wisdom. i reserve special admiration for the unflinching commitment to that path. its mission is to prepare a person to become moral and intellectual leaders and provide a valuable service above material success. wisdom seekers must define their worth beyond external measures of achievement.
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wisdom, at its core, is discovered internally. it begins with understanding your weaknesses in your shortcomings, and quietly attending every day to being a better person when the sun sets, then you were when it rose that morning. the search for wisdom is never been easy. but today, that path is up skewered in the weeds of a culture obsessed with fame, money, and celebrity. personality has become more celebrated than character. the loud seem more revered than the quiet. and i said technology is partly responsible. yes, the candy treats of technology, while delicious, are siphoning many into our society into the shallows. young people today risk of being turned into self-centered, personal brand managers.
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obsessed with managing their image on social networks, spending their energies collecting likes and followers, and curating their highlight reels for friends on facebook. in short, i feel like a nation of people chasing attention more than achievement. one obsessed with 140 characters of information, rather than words of meaning and substance. youtube seems to be the new andy warhol canvas, where you find your 15 minutes of fame. but if you want to find a higher purpose, you must resist becoming a celebrity, running around collecting trophies, trinkets, bonuses, you have to find the road to character. new york times columnist david
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brook offered a brilliant book of that name, and in it, he said there are two sets of human virtues. the resume virtues, and the eulogy virtues. the resume virtues are the skills that contribute to your external success in the job market. the eulogy virtues are deeper. as he said, they are the virtues they get talked about at your funeral. the ones that exists at the core of your being, whether your kind, brave, honest, or faithful. what kinds of relationships you formed in life. this person wants to have a serene inner character, a solid sense of right and wrong. not only to do good, but to be good. he wants to love intimately, sacrifice self in the service of others, live in obedience to some transcendent trust, to have cohesive inner soul that honors creation, and many possibilities. a wise person cultivates eulogy virtues throughout their life. a sage is forged in the kiln of time, from decades of experience
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is that none of you have yet to have. but if you set your compass to that destination now, as you take your first steps, you will surely get there. to help you start your journey, i offer just a few lessons from my own crucible of experience. to begin with, a wise person is always confident, but never certain. a wise person understands the certitude can be a vice, and that doubt rather than a weakness, can be a virtue. if you appreciate the vast complexity of our universe, you know that our senses limit our perceptions to only a tiny fraction of reality. much more is unknown to us then is known. avoiding certitude leaves your mind open to see the you might be wrong. it leaves you prepared to revise your opinions, based on new facts, and new perspectives, or
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the weight of a better argument. certitude is blinding, it leads to arrogance and closes the mind. avoiding certitude however, does not mean a life without conviction. in a world of ambiguity and temptation, you need a moral compass. you must develop principles the you compromise for no one. not for a loved one, not for a job, and not for a chance at fame or wealth. they serve as your anchor in a storm, preventing you from being blown away by the winds of expediency, and help you be at peace with the choices you will have to make in life. a wise person is highly observant and understands the power of silence. train yourself to notice the little things. in my life, i mark when i see the first flower in spring, or leaves inof the first
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fall. noticing lets you see more keenly into the world and gain insights that others miss the rush of the day. moreover, it keeps you mindful of the present. not stressed by a past you cannot change or a future you cannot know. silence is golden, for as they say, when you are talking, you are not listening. it is a very powerful skill to be able to be alone with your own thoughts. a wise person practices gratitude, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and sees a higher purpose in life. gratitude is acknowledging and appreciating your blessings. it is the outer expression of humility. compassion is being in tune with another, withe of the intention to ease suffering and increase joy. well-known quote says be kind,
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for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. acceptance means appreciating what is not in your control. god, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference. forgiveness is the choice to give up anger and resentment. it is the gift you give to others, even those who do not deserve your kindness. higher meaning gives your life and your work a purpose. it makes you hpier, more focused, and more spiritually connected. and finally, a wise person knows she is mortal. when i sat where you are now, i give no thought to the fact that the life before me would someday have an end. often, people first confront their mortality when they reach middle age, and their knees hurt
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and their cholesterol is bad. and their blood pressure is up. but appreciating that life is finite while you are young will give you the proper perspective for living meaningfully. as emily dickinson wrote, that it will never come again, is what makes life so sweet. i learned this lesson the hard way when i was just a few years from where you are sitting now. i was an army officer in germany, living my dream. then one day, with no warning, i was thrown from an army vehicle and i lay in a highway with a broken spine and a shattered pelvic cradle. at that moment, i did not know if my life had hours or years remaining. i spent an entire year in the hospital. relying on the skilled hands of others, the love and support of
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my family and friends, my own faith, and my own spirit to live, and my determination to find a meaningful life. it may sound odd, but it is the best thing that ever happened to me. it taught me the life is precious. it taught me that nothing is more important than relationships. it taught me to move toward those who are loving and kind and move rapidly away from those wallowing in negativity and blinded by self-promotion and ambition. it taught me the majesty of the universe and how small i am in it. it taught me the true importance of perseverance. and, the importance of pursuing wisdom. if i can impart the same lesson to you now, you will have a life rich with meaning, and you will have nothing to fear from the robots. thank you very much.
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[applause] >> more 2016 commencement speeches now, with marcia mcnutt, who in july will become the first woman to lead the national academy of sciences. she was also the first editor in chief for science magazine. she returns to her alma mater colorado college this month to give a commencement speech to graduates. it is 20 minutes. [applause] ms. mcnutt: wow, what a great day this is. i am just so thrilled to be here is your commencement speaker and to be able to congratulate the graduates, the parents, the families, faculty, and friends of the class of 2016.
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honestly, to me, it seems like just yesterday i was sitting on your side of the podium, as a member of the first class to be entirely educated under the block plan. and now, instead, i am saving up for my own grandchildren's college education. and thinking to myself, what a -- will the class of 2034 still go to college? and i'm thinking, that is probably a pretty safe assumption, because this system of higher education has actually been around since the 11th century. so that is a pretty good run. and when you think of how many changes we have had in just the


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