Artificial intelligence is increasingly embedded in our consumer and business lives, and it is poised to transform how societies function in the years to come. Yet universities are not adequately preparing students for a changing world. To better prepare students for a changing world, AI needs to be increasingly embedded into higher education.
For students, AI will inevitably impact their careers. Those interested in careers in AI could pursue a wide range of exciting new career possibilities focused on data science, machine learning or advanced statistics. And, even students not focused on AI would benefit from a sound education in artificial intelligence and familiarity with working with machines.
The AI era will inevitably create new job types, ranging from machine regulators to emotion engineers. To succeed, all students will need to understand, at least at a high level, how machines perform. In addition, they should better equip themselves to do what machines cannot do.
Moreover, traditional roles such as business analyst, sales, human resources and others will be augmented by AI, requiring a new degree of proficiency for front-line staff to interact with machines. Executives and managers will need to work with machines in strategic decision-making and problem-solving roles.
McKinsey predicts that AI will replace up to 800 million jobs by 2030. That’s a drastic reshaping of the workforce — and one that universities can and should help students prepare for. While some schools have world-class AI and technology programs, others have ample room for improvement.
Based on my observations as a Stanford University graduate now working for an AI company, Aera Technology, I’d like to share ideas on how universities can improve student readiness through curriculum requirements, projects with corporations and mentorship programs.
While it’s impossible for universities to keep up with the rate of change in the technology industry, I recommend that universities re-evaluate their core curriculums to ensure that students are prepared for the new age of employment that is approaching. I strongly advise all universities to incorporate computer science, entrepreneurship and social impact classes into curriculums.
By taking computer science classes, students will be able to understand the back-end systems that drive machines. At a minimum, a high-level understanding of machines is necessary to operate in an augmented workforce.
Entrepreneurship is another focus area, as continuous innovation has become the standard across industries. Entrepreneurship no longer solely drives startups, but it also drives large companies. For students to become leaders in the workplace, they should understand the principles of entrepreneurship and how they can innovate in any environment.
And social impact is more important than ever before. If you are going to build, sell or use AI, IoT or other technologies, you have to be able to understand what impact the technology will have on society. Inherently, by working in the world of technology, you are driving change. Technologists have a societal obligation to drive positive change as much as possible.
Projects with Corporations
One thing I am surprised I do not see at more universities are classes driven by projects with corporations. All students should have the opportunity to take classes that enable them to see how their academic curriculum is setting them up for their careers in the new machine-driven world.
With a complete reshaping of the workforce, getting out of the classroom is necessary for students to understand the emerging job opportunities. An increase in university-corporate projects would provide students with the experience required to determine which careers to pursue. These projects would help companies gain new perspectives and reflect positively on universities.
In college, it is important for students to receive guidance from mentors. With the vast amount of opportunities available, students can become overwhelmed. Through the effective matching of mentors, they can gain insights into how to set up their careers, utilize technology and select the best employer.
Additionally, mentors can offer support throughout the ups and downs of choosing a career path in the new AI world. These programs should be fairly easy to set up since many university alumni want to give back to current students.
Of course, it also falls on students to conduct due diligence on which institutions are geared up to help undergraduates excel in a tech-driven future. Universities that embed AI learning and experience into the academic environment will benefit with positive reviews and successful alumni as AI transforms the job market.
This article originally appeared in Forbes