Liberal Arts are essential to future of tech, says Microsoft
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Liberal Arts are essential to future of tech, says Microsoft

Liberal Arts are essential to future of tech, says Microsoft

Two key figures at Microsoft – president Brad Smith and executive vice president of AI and research Harry Shum – believe the liberal arts will be essential to unlocking the full potential of Artificial Intelligence in the future.

AI is set to disrupt every aspect of our lives – and mathematical and engineering minds are needed to make this happen. But knowledge of the liberal arts is also essential, according to Microsoft’s leaders.

They envisage AI will have an immovable place in our daily lives in the future, reported Business Insider.

But as this happens, the liberal arts will be crucial in developing AI systems that mimic human qualities.

“Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions,” they wrote in their book The Future Computed.

For example, self-driving cars are already grappling with ethical decisions on whether a passenger or pedestrian’s life is more important.

Knowledge of ethical theories are essential in developing such AI, while computer science knowledge is needed to implement the philosophies.

In order to achieve the potential of the technological age, we need to embrace not just STEM subjects, but STEAM subjects, says Graham Brown-Martin, chief education adviser at ed-tech company pi-top.

Brown-Martin told Study International the arts must be embraced to take AI to the heights it can reach and to make the most of the new opportunities AI will create for humans.

We will finally be freed from monotonous factory production lines and data-heavy jobs, and instead our purpose will lie in creative problem solving, social communication and emotion-centred interactions, he explained.

“The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, which will bring new opportunities and challenges,” said Brown-Martin.

“There’s going to be structural unemployment, lower income security and lower social agency. [We are] 20 years away from automated automation, where machines are coding each other. At this time, the liberal arts may be even more useful than a technology education because it helps children to solve real-life problems that machines can’t do.”

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