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…“those arts and sciences students just weren’t made for engineering.” But the difficulty is in my opinion due to 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 these integration difficulties extend well beyond the ivory tower. 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 widely-used and accessible business intelligence solution in the legal profession. Crossover specialists – people who understand the challenges of their chosen field, but who also understand how a system might be engineered to overcome them – are what we need to mitigate this problem, but they seem to exist primarily in fields where the challenges are commonplace! When we fail to grow crossover specialists 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.
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 have offered.
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. The method is never as important as the actionable insights generated with it. The benefit 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.