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Surviving AI in Academia When ‘Things Get Weird’: Lessons from Emad Mostaque

Embarking on a journey through the uncharted territories of AI in higher education, I find myself turning to industry leaders for guidance.

This post is inspired by insights shared by Emad Mostaque, a prominent figure in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), in a recent video “The 3 Year AI Reset: How to Get Ahead While Others Lose Their Jobs (Prepare Now)”.

Mostaque, known for his pioneering work in AI and its applications, offered a unique perspective that is particularly pertinent to those of us in the higher education sector.

Here, I intend to weave a narrative that explores the integration of AI in higher education – not merely as a technological tool but as a paradigm shift that beckons us to rethink our roles, methodologies, and goals.

🔗 https://youtu.be/Se91Pn3xxSs?si=1B-VEjUWJ7fIAOa-

Summary Takeaways: “The 3 Year AI Reset: How To Get Ahead While Others Lose Their Jobs (Prepare Now) | Emad Mostaque”

  • AI and Human Collaboration: Emad Mostaque emphasises that AI won’t replace humans; rather, humans using AI will replace those who don’t. He views AI as a thrilling advancement with the potential to unlock humanity’s potential, despite acknowledging its existential threat.
  • Impact on Society and Economy: He covers how AI will disrupt industries over the next 3-5 years, predicting significant societal and economic shifts. He notes the potential for AI to democratise technology, making it accessible to everyone, including non-experts.
  • Future Predictions and Ethical Considerations: He delves into the difficulty of predicting AI’s long-term impact, the importance of ethical considerations, and the need for regulation. Mostaque discusses the potential for AI to redefine professions and influence society.

A Vision for AI-Driven Higher Education: Reflections of an Educator in the Age of AI

As an educator, the meteoric rise of AI both captivates and concerns me.

Like many in academia, I contemplate what the future holds as AI transforms industries, economies and societies.

How will we remain integral in higher education’s evolution, instead of relics rendered obsolete?

Emad Mostaque’s thought-provoking interview “The 3 Year AI Reset” reveals some answers; his perspectives on AI’s imminent impact present a call for educators to actively prepare for the changes ahead, rather than passively being put out to pasture.

Below, I contemplate a vision for an AI-empowered future of teaching, learning and academia. One where human and machine intellect harmonise, taking education to new heights.

AI Will Reward Early Adopters in Higher Education

Mostaque makes a prediction – over the next 3-5 years, the rise of AI will trigger tectonic shifts across economies and society.

He notes that “humans using AI will replace humans that don’t use AI”.

This perfectly captures the pivotal juncture facing higher education today.

Educators and institutions that strategically integrate AI will remain integral and thrive in the emerging landscape. Those that delay risk irrelevance, replaced by early adopters.

As Mostaque stresses, the next few years represent a crucial window of opportunity to get ahead of (or, what might be more realistic: move in a positive direction with) the AI curve.

So, how do we prepare?

Proactive adoption of AI’s potential is imperative.

This will undoubtedly entail continuous upskilling in emerging technologies through collaborations, communication, and self-driven learning. We need to get proactive!

At an institutional level, we must invest in partnerships with AI developers and companies to build a robust infrastructure for AI innovation and implementation across administrative and academic functions is key.

This includes AI applications in learner analytics, assessment systems and digital infrastructure.

Yet, before radical overhauls are attempted, it might be wise to consider how we can begin integrating AI into smaller routine functions – which can ultimately enhance operating efficiencies, allowing time for larger-scale more audacious action towards grander AI plans.

Equally vital is fostering an agile, future-ready culture across faculty and leadership. One that rewards experimentation with AI tools and pedagogies.

With vision and an awareness of the urgency, higher education can leverage AI to enrich learning and scholarship (and remain relevant!).

Reimagining Teaching and Learning in the AI Age

Mostaque draws interesting parallels between AI’s impact on entertainment and its imminent influence on education. Just as AI has enriched video game design, CGI in movies and content personalisation in media platforms like Netflix and YouTube, its potential to transform course materials and instructional delivery in higher education is immense.

As an educator, I believe integrating AI is key to creating bespoke, multi-modal learning experiences that were impossible earlier.

AI-driven platforms can also enable just-in-time course creation, reducing the burden of constant content updates. Immersive simulations powered by AI could supplement traditional lectures and seminars.

The future is paved with personalised learning where AI will analyse individual profiles and performance to suggest customised content sequences, assessments and interventions. Examples of how this is already playing out can be found at: Khanmigo, Khan Academy’s AI-powered guide, MATHia, and Somanasi – which were examples provided in GatesNotes – Bill Gates’ end of year letter.

However, the learning management system I am tasked with using – which differs minimally from others used at other universities – don’t allow us to adequately implement such innovations.

Will university infrastructure catch up to the needs of our students before it’s too late?

Alongside technology, we will be required to reimagine curriculum design, course development and instructional methods. This requires investment at an institutional level – the value of which should not be underestimated for long-term business model sustainability of the sector.

Our future is likely characterised by being ‘architects’ that create syllabi and learning blueprints in collaboration with AI developers and computer scientists to design next-generation learning environments.

This will require adequate technology infrastructure, partnerships with the AI ecosystem, and most critically, incentives for (potentially reluctant) staff. The journey is not for the faint hearted!

Global AI Adoption Can Democratise and Disrupt International Education

Mostaque predicts that countries in the ‘global South’ might leapfrog stages of development through rapid adoption of AI, which can amplify economic output. This could profoundly disrupt and democratise education worldwide.

As an educator, I believe this represents a pivotal opportunity for internationalisation in higher education. Cross-border partnerships, dialogues and shared standards for ethical AI implementation will be critical. Our networks will need to become broad and deep.

Of course, realising this vision requires higher education leaders to embrace action, while also being literate and mindful on issues like data privacy, bias in algorithms, and academic integrity standards. Upskilling is required across the board.

I acknowledge it’s a mammoth task. Made additionally challenging by existing structural constraints.

But, it’s one which we have no choice but to engage with if we want to be around in the (near) future.

Help Shape the Future of AI in Higher Education

The integration of AI in higher education is expected to be one of the most defining phenomena of the 21st century. As Mostaque articulates, the rise of AI is as significant as the internet revolution before it.

How we in academia respond and adapt will decide whether we remain integral to education’s evolution or risk irrelevance.

I believe that as educators, our role need not be that of p🙏assive bystanders, but of active participants in shaping this future. We are uniquely positioned to guide change due to our proximity to student learners. Decisions should be made in collaboration, not dictated from high.

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