This article examines the book The Fuzzy and the Techie in light of the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence. (Note – one of the articles I mentioned elsewhere includes some comments on the same book). Below are several highlights from this article:

Are Liberal Arts Majors Really in Technical Companies?

It is great to talk about how liberal arts are important in the technology world, but are there real world examples of business leaders with non-technical majors directing major technical companies? Yes, including the YouTube CEO (History Literature), Salesforce co-founder (English), PayPal co-founder (philosophy and law), Hewlett Packard former CEO (Medieval History), Pinterest founder (Political science), & the founder of LinkedIn (philosophy). While these are high visibility examples, it is safe to deduce from their success, at the highest levels, that liberal arts majors are scattered throughout various technical companies.

Related quote from the book’s author: “Studies show that there is a skills gap on the order of a million jobs, and we need more people with STEM skills. But what I’m also arguing is that to focus so narrowly on vocational application we lose sight of the needs for passion, complex thinking, and creativity. These are the truly durable skills, not whether you can code in Ruby this year or Go next year. Tech is moving literally at the speed of light, so how do you prepare? Our education system should focus on helping kids find passion and learn to love learning, because the system, as a whole, will never keep pace with the needs of industry.” 

New Job Categories Created by Artificial Intelligence

When considering new jobs that will arise from the use of AI, they were classified into three major categories:

  • Trainers – teaching AI systems how to perform (essentially building in empathy)
  • Explainers – bridging the gap between the technical knowledge and the customer and/or consumer
  • Sustainers – making sure it all works as intended (applying it to human needs/wants)

Related quote from the book’s author: “In the short-run, there’s going to be more intelligence automation (IA) than true artificial intelligence (AI). Our jobs are comprised of many tasks. Those tasks that are routine, or repeatable, can be scripted, and better done by a machine. Those tasks that are non-routine, or highly variable, or require creativity or empathy, will be human-led. Those tasks require complex problem solving and flexibility, and the way we prepare for those tasks is through broad-based Liberal Arts education with an emphasis also on technical literacy.” 

Takeaways from an Interview with Hartley

An increasing reliance on innovation requires storytelling, creativity, and empathy – features that a liberal arts background emphasizes.

Education is a passport, not a plane ticket. It is not about getting from point A to point B but is instead about the journey and what you pick up along the way. As Hartley says, “It’s about how can you bring together both the human and the technical. Value inheres in this intersection. If you love math and science, then I’d ask, how can you supplement that with humanism? If you’re into arts and humanities, how can you engage with the newest technology tools as well?” This quote aligns to our innovative classical approach to learning – we want students to possess a plethora of skills, from the sciences to the humanities.

 

Matthew Breazeale
Lower School Head
Trinity Academy