Presidents of 10 universities weigh AI impact on education

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Presidents of 10 universities weigh AI impact on education

Presidents of 10 private universities in Seoul commenced a forum at Yonsei University on Monday to discuss the future of universities in a world of artificial intelligence and other technological developments.

Presidents from Yonsei, Korea, Kyung Hee, Sogang, Sungkyunkwan, Sookmyung Women’s, Ewha Womans, Chung-Ang and Hanyang universities, as well as the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, discussed the so-called fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence and the lack of financial investments into private universities.

“We’re here today to talk about how universities will adapt to the global changes,” said Yeom Jae-ho, president of Korea University.

One such change, the presidents agreed, is the rapid development of artificial intelligence.

“I hear now that artificial intelligence will outrun human intelligence by 2025 - that’s 20 years faster than what we expected before,” said Kim Yong-hak, president of Yonsei University. “If universities don’t change, our research and everything we worked for will be at risk of being lost.”

“Artificial intelligence, cloud computing and virtual reality developments are all part of the fourth industrial revolution,” said Lee Young-moo, president of Hanyang University. “And neither society nor academia is ready to take on these changes.”

“We are fast approaching an age where machines can think,” he added. “Tasks that require decision-making will no longer be performed by humans, but by machines.”

The presidents emphasized the need to think outside the box to completely reform traditional university education. “Kids these days approach education as a form of labor,” Yeom said. “From a young age they study with a single goal - to get that acceptance letter from a top school.”

He added, “We need to do something about this education cycle, whereby parents are at their wits’ end, investing much of their savings into their children’s education.”

Measures like expanding massive open online courses (Moocs) were suggested, in addition to pooling courses and professors between universities.

“For instance,” Yeom said, “the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies can share its Arab language courses with other universities.”

The 10 private university presidents have been meeting as a consultative group for a year before hosting the forum on Monday.

They will be holding the forum once every month to establish inter-university research projects as well as other projects with research institutes worldwide.

“The forum is different from the gathering of 200 four-year universities at the Korea Council for University Education,” said a university research department head. “The consultative group will serve as a representative body for private universities in Korea.”

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