Digital Academics in 2030

By Kaelah Chiriqui,Semesterz

In 2015, we lived in the “future” as it was depicted in Back to the Future in 1989. Sadly for us, the film’s idea of the future turned out to be quite far from our reality. What if we were to predict what our future looked like decades from now, would we be more accurate? One significant change that’s talked about almost constantly is education; so, what will college look like in 2030?

[post_ads]Many people speculate that machine learning will govern education, college included. The idea of machine-led education might sound like something out of the Terminator movies, but it’s closer to reality than theory already. The power and complexity of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at an astounding rate. By 2030, everyday devices, such as your cellphone, will be one-thousand times more intelligent than they are today. Just imagine all the information that such powerful machines could provide. With the rate of advancement that we see today, your children’s history lecturer just might be SIRI.

You might think this is an unrealistic idea of the future, but taking into consideration how many ‘smart machines’ already exist and are in operation, think twice before dismissing. For example, take ROSS, a computer that has “learned” everything there is to know about the law and has taught IBM’s Watson ‘brain’ computer to carry cases on its own. We’re already living in a time where a computer can solve legal disputes without human intervention. Computer algorithms govern whole financial systems, and advancements in medical robotics have made it so machines can provide accurate diagnoses and even perform surgery. These are just a few examples of how AI is being implemented in our lives right now.

In regards to college, there are many possibilities as to how AI will impact education. Increased cases home-schooling would be enabled by interactive lessons that include high-tech visual aids such as holographs. Also, machines could facilitate a more accurate understanding of how each student learns according to regular feedback provided by student interaction. All of these options are possible, in particular with the way computers are learning to simulate emotions such as humor, they have the potential to provide inspiration to young audiences and interact with students at a level teachers can only hope to achieve through years of practice. Though a futuristic robot-like teacher may be a bit farfetched for colleges in 2030, there’s little doubt that AI will be commonplace, most likely in the form of handheld devices, similar to tablets and smartphones.
Some people are less excited than others about quickly growing computer intelligence, especially when it comes to the education of our future generations. There are concerns that as computers become increasingly smart, they will go beyond standing in for teachers, but will fill the professional positions that students are studying for in the first place. Take financial advisors, legal aids, bankers, and doctors; if machines can do these jobs better than humans, then why would anyone get into thousands of dollars of student debt to compete against them? Could college be eradicated by 2030?

Don’t worry; many scientists and social analysts believe that new jobs for humans will be created as a direct result of increased machine activity we head into the future. More traditional institutions that may not be that quick to jump on the AI bandwagon are just going to have to bite the bullet on this one. It’s also not the first time we’ve been scared regarding technology; Thomas Edison said in 1913 that ‘books will soon become obsolete’ and replaced by moving pictures. While he was right about that one, few people would say we’re any worse off because of it.
In conclusion, the ability and potential power of computers should not be feared as an end to college as we know it, rather an enhancement to what we already have. We are a long way from a world without humans, and as most machine learning experts (and sci-fi fans) would tell you, the first rule of robotics is that we are always the ones in control.

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