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Nov 15 2018 - 11:39am
Humanics in the Era of Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Hui Soo’s recent post on A.I. in education reminds me of a book, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun. As robots and AI are predicted to take away more blue collar and white collar jobs, how to prepare college graduates to compete with smart machines on the job markets has become one of the top priorities for higher education institutions.


In his book, Aoun proposes a new learning model -- humanics -- that will prepare college students to understand the highly technological world around them as well as to nurture unique human qualities (such as creativity). Aoun outlines three new literacies as content knowledge and four “robot-proof” thinking skills in humanics:


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 four higher order cognitive capacities that are “robot-proof”are:


  1. Critical thinking
  2. Systems thinking (the meta-skills to understand, navigate and work effectively in complex systems)
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Cultural agility (to appreciate various cultural values and perspectives on social issues)


Neither humanity nor technology alone can help us navigate and work effectively in the rapidly changing world. To me, Aoun’s humanics strikes a great balance and is a useful framework to prepare college graduates to be tech-savvy and human-centered in their efforts to build a better society.

By: Ching-Fu Lan|264 Reads