Muscat: The University of Oman and the Science & Technology Project, in association with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), organised a symposium on “Future of Education and Works in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” at the SQU Grand Hall on Wednesday.
In the first session, Dr. Joseph Aoun, an internationally renowned linguist and authority on higher education policy, introduced his book ‘Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.
He said that in this age of artificial intelligence and sophisticated robotics, machines would soon outperform human beings at predictable mental tasks.
Universities must therefore learn to educate people for work beyond the scope of automation—namely, creation and collaboration, invention and empathy.
A “robot-proof” educational model teaches students to accentuate their human strengths, erasing the boundaries between the so-called “hard” sciences, the humanities, and technical learning.
Dr. Joseph Aoun said that he calls this model “humanics.”
Following that, Dr. Fadi Makki, member of the Council for Behavioral Sciences at the World Economic Forum, and pioneer in the application of behavioral economics to public policy in the Middle East, spoke about “Applications of behavioral economics and nudge concepts in various education policy settings”.
The application of behavioral economics and nudge concepts to public policy is a recent innovation that is transforming the way governments design policies as well as operate and deliver services.
As the name suggests, nudges are small, cost-effective and choice architecture-type interventions that seek to alter people’s behavior but without drastically restricting their choices.
Nudges are anchored in the field of behavioral economics, which applies psychological insights from human behavior to explain economic decision-making.
In the second session, Dr. Nizar Farjou, Associate President-Middle East North Africa and Central Asia, and Director of the MENA Region Engagement-Office of the Vice Chancellor and President - Monash University, delivered a speech about “Trending new Discipline / Fields opportunities in Science Technology and Medicine”.
He said that competing in the new global economy will demand bright ideas and inspired business leadership.”Innovation and Change has been envisaged as a vehicle to drive greater focus and impact education futures.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are the basis for economic innovation and development.
Enhancing STEM teaching and learning requires a concerted focus on developing teaching that motivates inspired learning in order to foster a more skilled and STEM literate workforce.
There is an increased awareness of the need for greater STEM capability globally and a recognition that STEM education outcomes need to be stronger.
A curriculum that integrates STEM throughout equips students with critical skills to meet economic and social challenges”, Dr. Nizar Farjou said.
Dr. Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Professor (Emeritus) of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology, delivered a speech on “Space and Earth Exploration; Future Opportunities”.He said that during the Golden Age of Space Exploration, over the last 50 years, JPL spacecraft have visited every planet in our solar system and roved for more than 14 years on the surface of Mars.
In addition, space borne telescopes have detected planets around neighboring systems, studied the composition and dynamic of galaxies across the Universe, and monitored changes in our planet’s surface and atmosphere.
This presentation discussed the challenges of robotic space and Earth exploration, highlighted of Curiosity’s recent landing on Mars, and presented some of the engineering and technological challenges for future missions of exploration and discovery.
The symposium ended by a Davos style panel discussion followed by a question and answer session in the afternoon moderated by Dr. Blair Sheppard, global leader of Strategy and Leadership Development at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
The panelists included the previous set of speakers in addition to Raoul Restucci, Managing Director of Petroleum Development Oman and IAB Member; Dr. Chris Moody, Science & Technology Advisor in the Science, Knowledge & Technology Transfer Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sultanate of Oman; and Dr. Amer Awad Al Rawas, CEO, Tasneea Oil & Gas Technology Group.