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Interface University and Other Scenarios for the AI Economy

August 2020

Published onAug 31, 2020
Interface University and Other Scenarios for the AI Economy

Staley, David. “Interface University and Other Scenarios for the AI Economy.” EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 55, no. 3, Aug. 2020, pp. 40–49 (https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/8/interface-university-and-other-scenarios-for-the-ai-economy). - In this paper, Staley examines the question of whether higher education institutions will endure if artificial intelligence progresses to the point where it replaces human workers in a significant way, leading to a "world without work." This is a controversial notion; however, each advance of AI facilitates the further development of future advances,and the prospect of AI systems being used to rapidly create next generation systems combined with continued increases in computing power could lead to significant, disruptive progress. The author states that: "In such a scenario, the purpose of higher education is to cultivate uniquely human attributes in students, not train them for (automatable) skills. Should artificial intelligence advance to the point that many human skills are rendered unnecessary, higher education can shift its focus to the cultivation of those attributes that cannot be mimicked by machines.... Instead, students would arrive on campus to develop curiosity, creativity, imagination, play, wonder, and meaning-making: attributes that no algorithm has yet mastered." Another scenario is this: "To prepare for such a future, we need to imagine a new kind of higher education institution, one where humans and artificial intelligences learn to think together. The mission of 'InterfaceUniversity' would be the cultivation of the interface, or relationship, between human and artificial intelligences. Interface University would be based on the idea that machines cannot fully supplant human cognition and that thinking with machines allows students to engage in a level ofcognition not possible with the brain alone. Thus, at Interface University, students would learn how to think together with computers."Science fiction? Advances in AI warrant careful monitoring, and this paper offers some interesting insights. - CB

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