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How to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--filling needs that even the most sophisticated robot cannot. Driverless cars are hitting the road, powered by artificial intelligence. Robots can climb stairs, open doors, win Jeopardy, analyze stocks, work in factories, find parking spaces, advise oncologists. In the past, automat How to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--filling needs that even the most sophisticated robot cannot. Driverless cars are hitting the road, powered by artificial intelligence. Robots can climb stairs, open doors, win Jeopardy, analyze stocks, work in factories, find parking spaces, advise oncologists. In the past, automation was considered a threat to low-skilled labor. Now, many high-skilled functions, including interpreting medical images, doing legal research, and analyzing data, are within the skill sets of machines. How can higher education prepare students for their professional lives when professions themselves are disappearing? In Robot-Proof, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun proposes a way to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--to fill needs in society that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence agent cannot. A "robot-proof" education, Aoun argues, is not concerned solely with topping up students' minds with high-octane facts. Rather, it calibrates them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or create something valuable to society--a scientific proof, a hip-hop recording, a web comic, a cure for cancer. Aoun lays out the framework for a new discipline, humanics, which builds on our innate strengths and prepares students to compete in a labor market in which smart machines work alongside human professionals. The new literacies of Aoun's humanics are data literacy, technological literacy, and human literacy. Students will need data literacy to manage the flow of big data, and technological literacy to know how their machines work, but human literacy--the humanities, communication, and design--to function as a human being. Life-long learning opportunities will support their ability to adapt to change. The only certainty about the future is change. Higher education based on the new literacies of humanics can equip students for living and working through change.


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How to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--filling needs that even the most sophisticated robot cannot. Driverless cars are hitting the road, powered by artificial intelligence. Robots can climb stairs, open doors, win Jeopardy, analyze stocks, work in factories, find parking spaces, advise oncologists. In the past, automat How to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--filling needs that even the most sophisticated robot cannot. Driverless cars are hitting the road, powered by artificial intelligence. Robots can climb stairs, open doors, win Jeopardy, analyze stocks, work in factories, find parking spaces, advise oncologists. In the past, automation was considered a threat to low-skilled labor. Now, many high-skilled functions, including interpreting medical images, doing legal research, and analyzing data, are within the skill sets of machines. How can higher education prepare students for their professional lives when professions themselves are disappearing? In Robot-Proof, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun proposes a way to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover--to fill needs in society that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence agent cannot. A "robot-proof" education, Aoun argues, is not concerned solely with topping up students' minds with high-octane facts. Rather, it calibrates them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or create something valuable to society--a scientific proof, a hip-hop recording, a web comic, a cure for cancer. Aoun lays out the framework for a new discipline, humanics, which builds on our innate strengths and prepares students to compete in a labor market in which smart machines work alongside human professionals. The new literacies of Aoun's humanics are data literacy, technological literacy, and human literacy. Students will need data literacy to manage the flow of big data, and technological literacy to know how their machines work, but human literacy--the humanities, communication, and design--to function as a human being. Life-long learning opportunities will support their ability to adapt to change. The only certainty about the future is change. Higher education based on the new literacies of humanics can equip students for living and working through change.

30 review for Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ortegast

    Thought provoking with a high level overview of how education needs to prepare students for the future of work replete with artificial intelligence and robots. Got me thinking and I expect it will others in higher education so maybe it served its purpose. Still, I was a little disappointed. The author seems to accept premise that the future of work is whatever CEOs at multinational large corporations tell him. With a nod to the "gig economy," author does not explore difference between gig econom Thought provoking with a high level overview of how education needs to prepare students for the future of work replete with artificial intelligence and robots. Got me thinking and I expect it will others in higher education so maybe it served its purpose. Still, I was a little disappointed. The author seems to accept premise that the future of work is whatever CEOs at multinational large corporations tell him. With a nod to the "gig economy," author does not explore difference between gig economy employment (low skill and often low wage) and higher order project-based employment/portfolio careers. If careers are increasingly decoupled from long term employment with a single company (a probability) and benefits (retirement, insurance, tuition remission) are similarly decoupled from employers and an employee responsibility, what else will our students need to know to successfully navigate careers? One model is continuous life long learning with folks returning to universities to get micro credentials continuously, but what if we actually produced students who could navigate/coordinate/orchestrate their own ongoing personalized learning? What if employers didn't require universities to certify learning or competencies, and some other model took its place? I suspect, book reflects Northeastern's very smart educational model and agenda but I wonder if even that is still anticipating a future of work that looks a lot like the past. Oh well. Perhaps that is simply another book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    It is no surprise that in recent times, people and process have been augmented, and in many places completely replaced, by robots or automation that previously required human intervention to achieve. The initial roles replaced by mechanization were those of factory workers or laborers where repetitive tasks or sets of tasks needed to be performed. Something that is often quite binary in nature is easily replaced with computerization. It is no surprise that we see machines replacing assembly line It is no surprise that in recent times, people and process have been augmented, and in many places completely replaced, by robots or automation that previously required human intervention to achieve. The initial roles replaced by mechanization were those of factory workers or laborers where repetitive tasks or sets of tasks needed to be performed. Something that is often quite binary in nature is easily replaced with computerization. It is no surprise that we see machines replacing assembly line workers and, in some cases, even working alongside their human makers in a world where said machines are able to outperform humans and often can work for long periods of time without becoming tired or requiring a break. Some have wondered if the day will come when such automation will completely replace humans and we will all be left in a world that resembles something from the Terminator movie where we need to bow before our new autonomous masters. What author Joseph E. Aoun outlines in his book “Robot-Proof” evolves around the rapid changes in our society where we moved from being an agricultural society to a data-driven one instead. The audiobook edition is quite well narrated by John Glouchevitch. Today, nearly everything is answered by a Google search or by downloading an app. Yet, the higher education system has remained, at its core, where its initial roots of teaching philosophy, science and theology. Sure, there are now more subjects and majors, and we have seen some rapid growth in the online education space, yet the way in which most campuses train students has remained the same for centuries. Mr. Aoun proposes that the educational system (mainly higher education) needs to not only revamp the way it teaches, but they must inform its students on how to best select majors or jobs that could be considered to be more robot proof. As with nearly every other industry, education must also progress and transfer knowledge that will make their alumni more robot proof. There needs to be a paradigm shift from simply teaching rote-based subjects such as your typical reading, writing, and arithmetic; which are all very important subjects and the author would not say are replaced by his subjects. The new focus should be on technology, data, and humans. Each of these have their own importance, and each plays a considerable role in a way of educating an individual to be robot proof. These three cores supplement the more standard three learning subjects which should already be strong coming into a university unless a part of your continuing education. The author refers to these three competencies as “humanics”. Literacy in data is important to know how to manage and handle large data sets (big data) in this day and age of ever-increasing information. Understanding how machines or technology functions will be important as more and more of them we will come in contact with. Lastly, the human literacy is around communication and interaction with others. In a world of social media we are less-and-less finding ourselves face-to-face with others without a computer acting as our interface. The author provides a few areas on how the above three relate and how educational institutions can work to better make their students robot proof. The author lays out an example of a book or story. Computers are very good at scanning the contents of a book for things like grammar, spelling and such. It is very difficult for a system to grasp the concept or reason a given set of words or sentences when pieced together can provoke emotion in humans. It is easy for a computer or automated system to scan a piece of literature and provide data about it, yet there are not systems today that are capable of writing a story from scratch and be acceptable by human readers. It may produce something that is grammatically correct and something that even follows the rule of how a story is to be written, yet they always fail at telling a tale as a human can. Computers are weak at providing context or rational thinking, but very good at analyzing and processing vast amounts of information and spitting out the details. One needs to think of these differences as divergent thinking, the author’s name for them. Computers will continue to replace and augment areas where more simple binary roles are required, but it will impact more than simply factory workers. Currently, we see a trend where more and more industries like legal, medical, and real estate are rapidly being automated via technology. Think of how many travel agencies you still see compared to 10 or 20 years ago. Title searches, diagnosis of X-Rays, and property locations are today leveraging computers to take the more mundane tasks and pass up the cognitive focused processes to their human counterparts. We see the impact of changes like these across every industry and it will continue to grow as computers and machine learning gets better. There are however many jobs or careers which are more robot proof such as trades (plumbers, electricians, etc.) and more creative topics such as the arts (music, theatre, art). The author is not saying that one must go into one of these professions to be safe, not at all. Instead, he is saying that the roles which will be most protected from being replaced by automation are jobs that require cognitive thinking and/or a level of creativity. The last section of the book focuses on how universities can better assist and train up students to have more creative and cognitive skills in whatever their career path may be. Leveraging things like cooperatives and other means of getting hands on training rather than simply relying on book material, etc. Most of the books on a given subject are antiquated by the time they are published for classroom use, and nothing is better than hands-on experience for any career. Again, he is not saying that classroom education is unnecessary, but many educational institutions do not see the importance of more modern ways of training and learning but instead are continuing to teach as if they were back in the old farming days. I think it is very important for listeners to hear all the points the author lays out before simply diving into the ways of fixing an institution. Some of them include: online classes, multi-campus integration, co-ops, and much more. The audiobook’s narration by John Glouchevitch was flawless from both an audio quality and telling. Even though the book may seem like academic focused, the narrator made it feel informative, engaging, and even a bit entertaining in spots. The audio levels and volume remained consistent and the narrator’s voice was clean and easily understood. This is the first audiobook I have heard from this narrator, but I look forward to hearing more in the future. In summary, times have changed dramatically from the days of being an agrarian society to one thrust into the digital age. Even with computers and automation replacing a large number of skills previously performed by humans, there are many things which computers are not good at. Creativity and context are the key elements of becoming robot proof and higher education needs to embrace the changes required for not only this generation but the next. The author makes solid points and provides good recommendations on how institutions can better serve their students and make their future careers safer from being replaced by automation. Even if you are not someone involved in higher education, I would recommend this book as many of its concepts could be applied to nearly any industry.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    Thought provoking read by a university president about the need of teaching divergent thinking to students and the need to overhaul curriculum in light of the rise of AI. Fascinating book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nilesh

    Robot-Proof has a relevant scope but completely loses its way in its underappreciation of the challenge on hand. Let's say we are moving towards a world where technology (AI, robots, IoT, etc.) makes humans less than ideal for more and more work done by them today. What would you genuinely want to teach a younger generation that is heading into an era of this kind in the coming decades? The author looks at the problem in a staggeringly narrow fashion and suggests many decent-sounding solutions for Robot-Proof has a relevant scope but completely loses its way in its underappreciation of the challenge on hand. Let's say we are moving towards a world where technology (AI, robots, IoT, etc.) makes humans less than ideal for more and more work done by them today. What would you genuinely want to teach a younger generation that is heading into an era of this kind in the coming decades? The author looks at the problem in a staggeringly narrow fashion and suggests many decent-sounding solutions for university educators to do, which in reality will not even scratch the surface if machines continue to take over. Machines, in the worst case, will make tens and hundreds of millions of jobs redundant. The author's suggestions - in the best case - may keep universities useful but unlikely to help more than a fraction who would need help. These suggestions cannot be a small part of what needs to be done, even in contemporary university education, if we want to thwart these technologies' real threats. In universities, the kids could be trained along some of the following lines (none discussed in the book): a. The belief that machines should benefit all: Today's children are tomorrow's policymakers. They should be trained to perpetually build a world where the scarcity problems solved by machines are made available to all and not just a small section of the society. b. Less work is a good thing: If machines can perform an increasing number of tasks typically done by humans until now, a lot of humanity should be happy to work far fewer hours than what has become a norm in the last five hundred years. With the right political/policy system, a large part of the society may have most of its needs taken care of with little need to work more than a handful of hours. c. Train for leisure: Universities of the future will have to train students in idle pursuit journies: they could be in sciences, social sciences, moral/religious realms, sports, and physical activities, or even all forms of modern games. To a degree, this is what universities of the past did. As long as the political system can take care of most of the needs of everyone without the need to work, the purpose of education may change. d. Non-scalable work: Millions of jobs cannot be created in any scalable fields like online education. Yet, there are fields like childcare, adult care, personal training, customized education, etc., which can benefit far more people working and being paid (even by the state). f. Tomorrow's fields: The author completely misses discussions on tomorrow's industries that may employ millions of us. Climate repair and environment are one such field. Entertainment and gaming are other fields that are likely to surge with more leisure time. They should turn more specialized (less mass-market) over time, particularly with competitions in online games, these sports having their own professionals, etc. g. Protection from machines: Children must learn to admire and protect other humans' work in certain aspects despite (or rather because of) all the imperfections. A robot created Persian carpet, painting or prose may be superior to any human-created one. Still, a society that learns to applaud other humans' efforts will have ample use for human efforts as not everything we do or appreciate is driven by the end utility. In other words, far more wholistic thinking is required if we want to train our future generation for a different type of tomorrow.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Rolfe

    I had to read this for work, and I was hoping it would be better. Only a university administrator could think people will have to keep returning for advanced degrees because they will need people skills. Apparently nobody was brave enough to tell the president of Northeastern that there are many people outside of college with great people skills. That's not a huge part of the book, but it's indicative of the quality of thinking that went into his new "discipline" of humanics. What is a huge part I had to read this for work, and I was hoping it would be better. Only a university administrator could think people will have to keep returning for advanced degrees because they will need people skills. Apparently nobody was brave enough to tell the president of Northeastern that there are many people outside of college with great people skills. That's not a huge part of the book, but it's indicative of the quality of thinking that went into his new "discipline" of humanics. What is a huge part of the book is a plea that universities are essential for job training. I'm not sure how convincing employers will find this, because the author is still somewhat imbued with the values and obsessions that make higher ed irrelevant (if not toxic) to normal society. But Aoun has totally given up on education for anything other than practical, job-related purposes; maybe because that's the only way to keep lots of professors and university administrators employed. An example: he contrasts Charles Darwin with Isaac Pitman, who invented shorthand while Darwin was on his voyage. Aoun waxes quite enthusaistic about Pitman, far less so about Darwin: "As Darwin pondered his theories, Pitman's correspondence pupils were learning a valuable office skill, enabling them to..." Well, yes, but what about Darwin? Offices are probably better than higher ed at teaching office skills, but higher ed is the only cultural institution responsible for producing the next Darwin. What higher ed actually has to offer is education. I'm sure Northeastern's experiential learning programs are awesome, but Aoun shouldn't want me building my first freeway bridge through hands-on and trail and error. He should be unashamed to put me in a classroom for however many years it take me to learn the requisite physics, engineering, materials science, etc. In fact, he shouldn't be so scared of robots. If AI and robots start doing tons of our work, we will have a wonderful abundance that will let us do innumerable new things. I think the mindset of Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think is more appropriate. For those who can't stop worrying about robot-proofing, here's my answer: learn a ton about your field. What education used to promote-- gaining knowledge-- still matters. Do you want an employee who knows how to build a bridge, or one who tells you he has no idea, but information is everywhere and he can start Googling it? There's no need to invent bogus disciplines like humanics, or try to jump for the things you think robots can't do yet. It seems to me that those who know a lot about their areas are the ones well-positioned to solve problems, adopt new roles, invent new work, and enjoy the coming abundance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This would have made a good TED talk or long article, but I'm not sure it needed to be a full book for me. It was highly repetitive. There were some good suggestions though, such as how we should be lifelong learners and should train students to be lifelong learners. The book starts out pretty negative, explaining all the ways computers are going to take over our jobs, but it did get a bit better after that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nichola Gutgold

    Thought provoking book that makes me think about what is true learning for anyone. Spoiler: doing is more important than passive learning. We knew that, but the hook of the book—how to stay viable in an automated world—is well researched and presented.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cara Putman

    Fascinating look at where higher education could be headed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erkan Saka

    This is a just long essay that covers progressive attempts on higher education. It does not add anything new to the ongoing debates. I believe the title is aimed at selling more but not informative.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jj Li

    I was expecting a lot from this book, given how relevant the topic is, and as a STEM grad, I'm hyper aware of exactly how I could be made obsolete by a program, because my colleagues and classmates were trying to do that every day. Plus, it garnered really high accolades from people whose opinions I respect. However, I was severely let down. For people who've been out of school for a while, and have been taught before computers became commonplace in the workplace, this may be a very useful parad I was expecting a lot from this book, given how relevant the topic is, and as a STEM grad, I'm hyper aware of exactly how I could be made obsolete by a program, because my colleagues and classmates were trying to do that every day. Plus, it garnered really high accolades from people whose opinions I respect. However, I was severely let down. For people who've been out of school for a while, and have been taught before computers became commonplace in the workplace, this may be a very useful paradigm shift. For someone of my generation though, those of us who graduated into or were looking into University during the terrible job market after the 2008 recession and dealing with all the accompanying financial anxiety, this is old news. We're the digital natives who've grown up with the hosepipe of the internet blasted in our faces, including daily articles about how we're all going to be obsolete in five years and accompanying listicles and self-help articles on how to avoid that fate, and the ground this book treads through is all too familiar. It formalizes it in a way that a Buzzfeed article wouldn't, but doesn't deepen or add to the conversation if you've spent some time browsing the self help or careers section of any major publication. If this had come out earlier, say, five or four years ago, this would have been more interesting. Even then, I find some parts terribly outdated - in particular the co-operative education section. It reads like some of the University pamphlets I've dug up from the 50s at my Alma Mater (which, to be fair, was one of the pioneers of Co-op.). I'm not saying the author's wrong, but I think he tackles it from too remote a perspective to be useful to employers or prospective students. You might as well pick up a co-op pamphlet from any school that offers it. In summary: If you went to University after about 2008, pass. If you want a quick read, also pass - I know there's only like 150 large print pages, but the writing makes it a slog. And if you want to be reading in the 2010s, digitally, as I prefer my books (I know, I'm a heretic), also pass. Overall, pass, unless you desperately want a more formal way to organize the conventional career advice the kids are hearing these days.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ladonna Lewis

    This was an interesting read. Because I am a professor it applies directly to what I do, but may not be as interesting for those not directly involved in higher education. Some of the information in it can apply to the setting in which I work (community college), but much of it was more specifically aimed at the university setting. Interestingly, some of the things he talks about in terms of what universities need to do are things that many community colleges are already doing which demonstrates This was an interesting read. Because I am a professor it applies directly to what I do, but may not be as interesting for those not directly involved in higher education. Some of the information in it can apply to the setting in which I work (community college), but much of it was more specifically aimed at the university setting. Interestingly, some of the things he talks about in terms of what universities need to do are things that many community colleges are already doing which demonstrates that the two-year schools like the one where I work are more adaptive to change than universities. Another thing I found interesting was his discussion of "soft skills" that people will need to be successful. In the field of psychology, we have been identifying the soft skills students gain from our classes and degrees for several years, so I feel he is on point with that and my discipline may be at an advantage here. Overall, if you have the ability to influence decision making, whether that is with legislators, boards, administrators, college/university faculty or staff, then I would recommend reading this book and taking from it what works for your setting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rostad

    Excellent book that proposes a way forward for academia in this age of AI and machines. The author, Dr. Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University in Boston, says that creativity will be the most important skill for workers in the future. It will be what sets them apart from what machines will be programmed to do. How does the university teach creativity? This book suggests paths forward in that regard. The suggestions are great and are mostly already being implemented at Northeastern U Excellent book that proposes a way forward for academia in this age of AI and machines. The author, Dr. Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University in Boston, says that creativity will be the most important skill for workers in the future. It will be what sets them apart from what machines will be programmed to do. How does the university teach creativity? This book suggests paths forward in that regard. The suggestions are great and are mostly already being implemented at Northeastern University, which offers a great initial case study for the ideas presented.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mohamad Ahmad

    Head of northweastern university is concerned about the current educational system and its relevancy in a world shifting gears at breackneck speeds, heading toward an AI economy in which machines take over all the work and graduates become useless. The author thought about how we can make higher education adapt to an ever progressing world where graduates stay relevant and equipped with an education that fits the demands of the day. Higher education suffers a lot of problems currently. Its struct Head of northweastern university is concerned about the current educational system and its relevancy in a world shifting gears at breackneck speeds, heading toward an AI economy in which machines take over all the work and graduates become useless. The author thought about how we can make higher education adapt to an ever progressing world where graduates stay relevant and equipped with an education that fits the demands of the day. Higher education suffers a lot of problems currently. Its structure is designed to fit the demands of 30,40 years ago's industries. Graduates are having a hard time intergrating into the industries of today. The jobs of old that increasingly smarter machines are replacing have been getting toppled over by new jobs which requires newer skills and trainings to get ahead at. Machines have alleviated all the drudgery of old jobs, but it didn't stop there. Machines kept encroaching into more and more supposedly far fetched professions like Law and Finance. It is no longer enough to have literacy skills like reading, writing, and math. The author suggests we integrate "humanics" into our education so that students can have an edge over unprepared students. Humanics comprises digital skills( coding, data analytics), tech skills, and human skills. In addition to humanics, the author suggests that higher education institutions teach the following skills: system thinking(think holistically about the system amd how your specialty fits into it), critical thinking, entrepreuneurship, leadership, and cultural agility( ability to work with teams with different cultural backgrounds). In order to thrive you also need to be creative and have higher order thinking. The author talks a lot about the importance of experiental learning and life-long learning where what you learn at college expands out into the world and you apply it in different contexts and across various disciplines, and learnimg that extends beyond mere 4 year degree. Finally, the author suggests a system of education called the global multi university institutions where univeristies have several "nodes" in a netwoork of branches all over the world,and the student/employee get to revisit these nodes to update his or her skills whenever the need arises. Also, the author suggests that it is crucial univeristies and employers collaborate more and act jointly to bridge the gaps between graduates credentials and the skills required by the industry through training programs, co-ops, and apprenticeships. I found this book important amd timely. It dragged a bit at the end but overall,worth reading

  14. 4 out of 5

    Arfan Ismail

    An interesting read from Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The core message in the book coheres with much of the literature related to artificial intelligence: AI will complement human agency, not replace it. Aoun focusses on mankind’s creative capacity to suggest that whereas manual or repetitive tasks can be done by machines, tasks requiring creativity cannot. AI can tell us where to locate a bridge for maximum efficiency, but it cannot inform of the a An interesting read from Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The core message in the book coheres with much of the literature related to artificial intelligence: AI will complement human agency, not replace it. Aoun focusses on mankind’s creative capacity to suggest that whereas manual or repetitive tasks can be done by machines, tasks requiring creativity cannot. AI can tell us where to locate a bridge for maximum efficiency, but it cannot inform of the aesthetic appeal of that location. Aoun centres his work on a new humanities discipline called humanics, a discipline designed to accentuate humanity’s unique propensity for creativity and flexibility. He outlines three new literacies to add to traditional concepts of literacies: data literacy, technological literacy and human literacy. He then add to this a set of cognitive capacities that he views as being indispensable in the new AI infused world: systems thinking, entrepreneurships, cultural agility and critical thinking. Chapter three of the book is devoted to an elucidation of each of the aforementioned literacies and cognitive capacities. The remainder of the text is devoted to evaluating how universities should be viewing the new technological world and Klaus Schwab’s fourth industrial revolution-impacted world. Here Aoun has some noteworthy commentary, such as the need for HE to be more flexible in design, so moving away from set programmes of study and moving towards a system where universities are broader institutions where students can take individual modules as and when they need them and move between institutions located globally. He also spends time commenting on the need for apprenticeships to be promoted more, looking at international best practice such as that in Germany and Switzerland. Many readers may be thinking there’s little new here, a repackaging of old ideas but I’d suggest it’s worth a read. Certainly, the focus on humankind’s core strengths and how these will contribute to a new AI-infused world is worth considering. I’ll end with an apt quotation that sums up Aoun’s outlook, one I happen to agree with ‘The arrival of brilliant machines conclusively dispels the notion that a remunerative career is predicated on the study of an applied, “practical” subject…Instead, the jobs of the future will demand the higher-order cognitive abilities and skills that are often associated with a liberal arts education (p.148).

  15. 4 out of 5

    James

    Dr. Aoun has written a thought provoking book which highlights new challenges to individuals and institutions as the evolving Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have a larger impact in the workplace. He does a nice job in laying out the challenge. If you are a worker, what kinds of skills do you need in order to continue to add value in a role that won't simply be outsourced to an algorithm? I work as a part-time lecturer at Dr. Aoun's school, Northeastern, and this book offers insights w Dr. Aoun has written a thought provoking book which highlights new challenges to individuals and institutions as the evolving Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have a larger impact in the workplace. He does a nice job in laying out the challenge. If you are a worker, what kinds of skills do you need in order to continue to add value in a role that won't simply be outsourced to an algorithm? I work as a part-time lecturer at Dr. Aoun's school, Northeastern, and this book offers insights which give me a better sense of how the course I teach is striving to meet that "robot proof" test. Conventional wisdom in recent years has focused on the value of specialization, particularly in technical areas, but Aoun challenges that thinking, in essence stating that technical expertise alone will not ensure a job in the evolving economy. However, there are skill areas such as creativity, critical thinking and entrepreneurship at which human's are still more effective than machines, so Aoun suggests that higher education needs to evolve to enhance these skills. Another overarching theme is the importance of lifelong learning for all. As technologies change rapidly, workers will need to continue to develop and enhance new skills and areas of domain expertise. Aoun also notes that the skills taught in liberal arts programs, such as communications. critical thinking and aspects of creativity, can be quite valuable as part of one's "robot proof" toolkit. Aoun lays out a challenge to colleges and universities to step up and meet the needs for lifelong learning and also addresses examples of how industry and other institutions need to play an important role in this evolution. In summary, Aoun offers a well thought out argument on the need for a revitalized focus on lifelong learning and offers numerous ideas on how the key stakeholders, at both the individual and institutional level, need to adapt to meet this challenge. If you are concerned about your future in the workplace, this book will stimulate ideas on the challenges ahead and how you could better equip yourself to meet them.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    Some parts of this were good, others less good. I appreciated his overview of ways in which curricula can be adapted to the future, including modern-day literacies. They were good for thinking about how to strategize my own professional development to fill in skill gaps and what changes I may need to make to support students during my interactions with them as a librarian. It was weird to have someone go on about new skills and freeing people up to do work using various types of literacies import Some parts of this were good, others less good. I appreciated his overview of ways in which curricula can be adapted to the future, including modern-day literacies. They were good for thinking about how to strategize my own professional development to fill in skill gaps and what changes I may need to make to support students during my interactions with them as a librarian. It was weird to have someone go on about new skills and freeing people up to do work using various types of literacies important to an AI-integrated world because none of his examples seemed inclusive of non-applied research. Even for students who study the humanities in his proposed new world, their goal is to create apps and work for companies, translating information into consumerist products, not to develop an actual understanding of the past in a deep dive. I think we need a balance of both depth and breadth in the world in order to truly function as a society — not necessarily in the same persons. In addition, as someone who went to a liberal arts college known for being gay-friendly, the idea of "multi-campuses" is a bit terrifying. What if a lesbian is pursuing a curriculum and would need to go to a campus in a country where LGBTQ people are imprisoned or killed to satisfy her degree requirements, especially if a country can ask for social media credentials on entry? There's no more privacy. I don't trust that non-LGBTQ people making such multi-campuses would be sensitive to minority issues in ways that would make the program an equal opportunity for everyone. I could see other minority groups having similar concerns.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mon Thi Han

    Joseph argues for a new field called 'Humanics', which includes the study and the development of skill sets for technological literacy, data literacy and human literacy combined with system thinking, entrepreneurship and critical thinking. In my understanding, his version of education is that of a generalist education, where students would be taught a bit of everything. He uses the dutch architect, Koen Olthuis, as an example of someone who is able to synthesize all the various ideas from differ Joseph argues for a new field called 'Humanics', which includes the study and the development of skill sets for technological literacy, data literacy and human literacy combined with system thinking, entrepreneurship and critical thinking. In my understanding, his version of education is that of a generalist education, where students would be taught a bit of everything. He uses the dutch architect, Koen Olthuis, as an example of someone who is able to synthesize all the various ideas from different fields into a creative output. Having trained in architecture, I do think this generalist model is not perfect. His argument also reminds me of David Brook's Second Mountain. In David's view, today's universities and society emphasize people to be independent, to explore, without giving much direction and sense of purpose. In David's view, this is one of the biggest issues why the youth today feel purposeless. I do appreciate his writing regarding the use of different matrix to access the students, instead of the traditional reliance on grades and assessments. But I did not enjoy reading about Multi-network universities and how students could move around the world studying something. We already have these systems in universities. But his proposal seems a bit more extreme. As someone who has lived in many places around the world, I think I agree with David Brooks and Meg Jay more, when they argue we need to be grounded in place in order to make real impact within the community, locally then globally. The book is about how universities could thrive in the age where provision of education itself has become more democratize. The whole book feels like something he wrote for an education conference.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Camilla

    So, it's not the most entertaining book and it definitely reads like a scholarly paper run amok, but Aoun had some interesting points to make about the intersection of higher education and the advancements of technology. Technology is moving forward at such rates that an estimated 30% of all current jobs will be obsolete in the near future. Aoun argues that this is not necessarily a disaster and that there is a way to combat the advent of robots and the loss of employment. He suggests two primar So, it's not the most entertaining book and it definitely reads like a scholarly paper run amok, but Aoun had some interesting points to make about the intersection of higher education and the advancements of technology. Technology is moving forward at such rates that an estimated 30% of all current jobs will be obsolete in the near future. Aoun argues that this is not necessarily a disaster and that there is a way to combat the advent of robots and the loss of employment. He suggests two primary points: we as a society should educate ourselves on cooperating with and providing enhancement to the work that robots will soon be able to perform for us (he recommends we study humanics to provide the type of work that will likely never be possible for robots), and we as individuals in society should try to educate ourselves as best we can in all fields of knowledge. To this second point, he recommends miniature degrees or certifications that companies or universities sponsor for the benefit of all. We can attend specific classes that will educate ourselves on topics specific to the needs of ourselves and our companies. I found some points interesting and I appreciated the hopeful sense of responsibility that he instills in his writing. This book will never be as fascinating as a novel, but it was an interesting read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    a u d r e y ♥

    I was asked to read this book before attending a work conference where my company was rolling out a new phase and new project to essentially "robot proof" ourselves & our students. Personally, I hated the book. Every page I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head. The book is presented as new information while only rehashing claims and theories that have been talked about for 40 years. The author used fear to instill his ideas into the reader without presenting any solution or proposing any idea I was asked to read this book before attending a work conference where my company was rolling out a new phase and new project to essentially "robot proof" ourselves & our students. Personally, I hated the book. Every page I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head. The book is presented as new information while only rehashing claims and theories that have been talked about for 40 years. The author used fear to instill his ideas into the reader without presenting any solution or proposing any ideas other than "be creative because humans are naturally creative". Constantly he talks about the horrors that humanity has faced and the ways we have previously been seen as "robot proof" without crediting that fact to the nature of evolution and the way that humanity is constantly learning and evolving. As humans, we have no problems in disrupting ourselves or challenging ourselves especially when we have too. The book talked shop and dripped the classic "white male privledge" I wasn't expecting to come out of an MIT insider and I have to say, I don't think anything in here is new or innovative or worthwhile and if it wasn't a strict work assignment, I wouldn't have made it through chapter 3.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky L Long

    Nice and quick read. (A bit dry, don't use to stay awake while driving.) Good overview of how to succeed in the new economy. For anyone that is scared of the self checkout or think they will be stealing all the jobs, grow up and look at the history of the human race. Technological advancement is the mark of humanity. Education, creativity and continual learning is the way to stay ahead However, when the author started talking like universities could become agile and flip from "push" to "pull" sup Nice and quick read. (A bit dry, don't use to stay awake while driving.) Good overview of how to succeed in the new economy. For anyone that is scared of the self checkout or think they will be stealing all the jobs, grow up and look at the history of the human race. Technological advancement is the mark of humanity. Education, creativity and continual learning is the way to stay ahead However, when the author started talking like universities could become agile and flip from "push" to "pull" supply i got skeptical. The author is the president of a university. I really really really wish it were possible for the universities to do what he claims they need to do but any large corporation, especially with government funding is going to be as difficult to steer as the Titanic. I'm totally on board with revamping the education system and curriculum, I just don't think the university system will be capable of shifting so fundamentally quick enough. Please start looking into how to advance your learning and don't rely on the university system to get you there.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Chabot

    I was eager to read that book to be honest, as it stood near the top of my ''to read'' pile. However, it left me lukewarm at best. Sure, a few interesting ideas are presented, but mostly in a superficial, ''here's an idea that's worth considering'' style. I would have liked a lot more real life examples and more in depth analysis of the technological disruption we're going through now. In fact, the only worthy example given is more or less an infomercial for Northwestern university, which the au I was eager to read that book to be honest, as it stood near the top of my ''to read'' pile. However, it left me lukewarm at best. Sure, a few interesting ideas are presented, but mostly in a superficial, ''here's an idea that's worth considering'' style. I would have liked a lot more real life examples and more in depth analysis of the technological disruption we're going through now. In fact, the only worthy example given is more or less an infomercial for Northwestern university, which the author is the president of. I'm sure the teaching there is really good and everything, but that section of the book felt more like a brochure than the informative, groundbreaking narrative promised. Overall, a short read that's not too painful, but still leaves me with a ''meh'' feeling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Ruminations on how higher education can change to accommodate the rise of automation and AI by emphasizing lifelong learning, practicums, cultural breadth, communication, creativity, and other traits and skills that will enable students to stay relevant, employable, and engaged. Filled with historical context, anecdotes, and examples. Not particularly ponderous, and shows a passion for transforming US higher ed into something more adaptable and holistic than it currently is. Longer than it neede Ruminations on how higher education can change to accommodate the rise of automation and AI by emphasizing lifelong learning, practicums, cultural breadth, communication, creativity, and other traits and skills that will enable students to stay relevant, employable, and engaged. Filled with historical context, anecdotes, and examples. Not particularly ponderous, and shows a passion for transforming US higher ed into something more adaptable and holistic than it currently is. Longer than it needed to be. Could actually have spent the extra time/space offering a deeper critique of so-called liberal arts education. Instead was quite gentle. Honey vs. gall maybe.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ellen

    President of Northwestern and former MIT linguist Joseph Aoun makes the case for radical changes to higher education and a pathway Northwestern is already taken with aggressive experimental learning. He outlines technological, data, and human literacies and new cognitive capacities, critical thinking, systems thinking, and entrepreneurship as critical for new models of learning. I found his argumentation compelling but believe defining and developing human literacy to be the most difficult to ac President of Northwestern and former MIT linguist Joseph Aoun makes the case for radical changes to higher education and a pathway Northwestern is already taken with aggressive experimental learning. He outlines technological, data, and human literacies and new cognitive capacities, critical thinking, systems thinking, and entrepreneurship as critical for new models of learning. I found his argumentation compelling but believe defining and developing human literacy to be the most difficult to achieve, especially given the strong tradition strongly entrenched in most universities.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elliott

    Know what's gonna if we don't read this book!? This is what's gonna happen... "In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware Know what's gonna if we don't read this book!? This is what's gonna happen... "In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th." -The Terminator

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Thought provoking. Perhaps too optimistic about both the future of technology and the power of education by assuming that all students pursue higher education and have opportunities to pursue what Aoun calls "new literacies" - data literacy, technological literacy and human literacy. Would benefit greatly from an introduction by a computer scientist who also studies education to engage the thinking going on within technology disciplines. Still, worth a thoughtful read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt S

    I have a lot to say about this book. There are whole swaths I agree with, much that I do not. I think the most difficult part of this book is being familiar with Northeastern and reading the praise and structure the authors confers it and knowing that much is unfounded. I find much is a 'do as I say, not as I do," set of suggestions which are systemic in higher education. This review is to be continued as I intend to give it more thought and structure in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samer Chidiac

    Preparing the Future Generations for the Future A topic everyone is talking about these days, The upcoming age of Artificial Intelligence and Robots and what will happen before and when this will happen; Dr. Joseph Aoun approaches this subject from a different angle, from the angle of education, learning, and culture. Robot-Proof, is an easy read to a relatively complicated topic with a clear message and practical resources to anyone involved in education in general. Highly Recommended!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    There were some interesting and useful observations about both where we are with tech, Ed, and society; there were some interesting ideas for ways to address it. Then there was a lot of historical and narrative context that was covered, then re-covered, then covered again. Several ideas and arguments felt imaginative but not particularly deeply explored. Though arguing against the “if you build it, they will come” approach in higher ed, many solutions assumed that similar behavior.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Munshaw

    Providing a good overview of how jobs have changed and the role that universities can serve the public in ensuring that a workers skills remain relevant. Northeastern, unsurprisingly, received a fair bit of attention and it read a little sales-y to me. As a college counsellor, I am interested in how universities are responding to our changing circumstances so the content was interesting to me - I wonder how interesting it would be to most others.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim Elyot

    But for what at times seems a plug for his university-Northeastern, this book gave me hope. Unlike other dire futurists, Aoun defines what separates us from the machines that could, no will do our jobs. We cannot change that. But Robot-Proof offers a challenge to educators everywhere, that could help us find better ones.

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