One of the biggest threats to sustained technological progress is the difficulty of integrating instruction in the social, business, and computer sciences. It’s tempting to blame an over-indexed promotion of STEM majors for it; one might hear statements such as “those arts and sciences students just weren’t made for engineering.”
But the difficulty in my opinion is a lack of access to cross-pollinated courses of study. What are we doing to demonstrate to computer science students that they can thank Bernard Berelson, a sociologist, for that NLP algorithm they just ran? What are we doing to show arts and sciences students that qualitative inference is an exercise in probability?
The implications of separated study extend well beyond the ivory tower. For example, we have hundreds of AI-powered companies predicting when you need your laundry picked up and washed, or your food delivered, or your personal finances managed. Yet we atrociously don’t have a basic, widely-used and accessible business intelligence solution in the legal profession. Crossover experience seems to exist primarily in fields where the challenges are quotidien.
Once we consider the style of training students receive in school, it becomes abundantly clear why we see discrepancies like this in industry: we lack cross-domain instruction. When we fail to grow crossover experience in the academy, we fail to provide the talent necessary to overcome the important, domain-specific issues that are endemic to every industry, country, and profession. Solutions to these issues are increasingly critical in today’s competitive global economy.
Particularly, college graduates of political science and economics – many of whom go onto law school, business school, and other professional degrees – may never get another opportunity to fully understand the power of AI technology for the prediction and analysis of the world around the. This places these graduates at a significant disadvantage and hobbles the potentially incredible contributions they might offer.
I aim to overcome this difficulty by introducing new courses into the ordinary social science and business school curricula that introduce these students to such engineering concepts. The courses are anchored and driven by substantive research applications that require deeper consideration of the methods used to develop them. My students learn that the method is never as important as the actionable insights generated with it.
The benefit of this approach is that engineering student may cross-register for the courses, and be exposed to an entirely different way of thinking, while entering into collaborative relationships with their peers. The same may be said for arts and sciences students. We need to overcome this bottleneck in our ability to progress technologically and remain competitive globally by integrating instruction in engineering, business, arts, and sciences.