To push on or to pause? That was the fundamental question of my colleague Alan Brown’s recent blog on the development of AI. For every potential benefit around this amazing technology, there are concerns about future problems. There are no easy answers.
One thing is clear however, is that AI and ever advancing technology is here to stay. History teaches us that technological advancements can radically change how we live, work and play. So ignoring technology, hoping it will go away or banning it are just not options.
That is why I am great believer that graduates, whatever the subject area, should come away from our business school with an understanding of technology. You don’t need to be at the level of a coder or programmer (unless that is your career choice), but you should have a greater appreciation of how technology shapes organisations, governs interactions with customers and changes business models.
The demand for technology understanding is strong amongst students. In the most recent Tomorrow’s Masters study by CarringtonCrisp and EFMD, technology features heavily in the subjects that students want to study – including Digital Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, E-commerce and Data Analytics.
At the business school, we have developed specific programmes such as Business Analytics and Digital Marketing as well as ensuring that the technology challenges and opportunities run through programmes such as the Exeter MBA. In addition, the University of Exeter runs programmes such as MSc Data Science with Artificial Intelligence.
It is particularly important to link to our focus of helping build leadership for a better, more sustainable world and addressing the climate crisis. There are risks with any technology development, as some of the recent headlines around AI attest to, but it also has the amazing potential to develop solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss. That is something we should be embracing and exploring.
A personal hope of mine is also that technology development enables more women to go into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. It is an issue brilliantly summarised by my colleague, Professor Saeema Ahmed Kristensen in this recent blog. If ever pervading technology can enable greater diversity, that is another wonderful benefit.
Do we know where AI and associated technologies will be in the next 5 years – no we really don’t. What is clear though is that it has the potential to radically alter many aspects of our life. As a business school, we have a duty to help individuals and institutions to try and understand, and embrace all of this. Crucially, with a focus on harnessing it for good.