Why Business Schools Need to Teach Artificial Intelligence

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).

Throughout history, access to capital, technology and knowledge has never been greater. This is how we have experienced, over the last 30 years, the greatest acceleration that humanity has ever known. And artificial intelligence will undoubtedly be the engine of even greater acceleration.

While people clearly can benefit from artificial intelligence, this transformation also poses concrete challenges for companies and employees, educators and philosophers. Part of the work force will need to be redefined and re-qualified in order to work with artificial intelligence. Ethical and legal issues must also be addressed and regulated in order to promote the adoption of artificial intelligence under the best conditions. Therefore, if we are to preserve the human element, through which we hold knowledge and which modulates our knowledge of the world and our various activities, artificial intelligence education is a key issue of acculturation to technology: human beings must retain their specific intelligence, but it is equally imperative to understand technological intelligence.

A recent study that I led sought to discover the perspectives of business students and marketing educators and practitioners on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into marketing education programs. The study also investigated the drivers that predict interest on the part of marketing students in taking AI courses.

The results of this study demonstrate the importance of including AI in marketing curricula. The findings can also play an important role in motivating marketing students to enter the AI marketing domain, especially as demand for digital marketing is growing.

The Importance of Keeping Up to Date

Because students and practitioners can benefit from AI, professors also should keep up to date with the new technologies and innovation. AI is developing at a lightning pace, and it’s hard to keep up with the latest information about it. By the time a book has been written, reviewed, and published, the content could already be out of date. But there’s a tenuous balance between staying current and chasing trends. Partnering with businesses that will recruit students in the future is an essential way to address technical foundations of AI for marketing. It’s a way to make sure that educators are teaching the skills needed to be successful in the market.

For marketing educators, it is necessary to reflect on the growing impact of AI in education. If they are innovative educators, they already use new materials to teach differently. Marketing educators must continue to develop their capacities and skills, which are increasingly valuable to their students. Courses offered by marketing educators should enable students to interact with different forms of artificial intelligence, engage in discussions, view videos, and to even create things such as chatbots and virtual facilitators. The culmination of the courses can have participants design market-based projects.

The current deployment of artificial intelligence is the result of three factors: available computing power, data accessibility, and the development of AI products and solutions.

The current deployment of artificial intelligence is the result of three factors: available computing power, data accessibility, and the development of AI products and solutions. But technological availability is only the first brick of a large-scale implementation that has yet to be defined. If we observe an exponential growth in investments in artificial intelligence, these are more a sign of experimentation than of a real general mutation. Thousands of companies worldwide have adopted artificial intelligence systems, and this number is expected to double in the near future.

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Executives believe that artificial intelligence will revolutionize the way companies interact with customers and gather information from them. Moreover, the time available for organizations to adopt artificial intelligence without taking the risk of fading in front of competitors is very short. In the face of the productivity plateau faced by many industries, artificial intelligence is also a means of remaining competitive and viable. Thus, both to form future AI experts and to provide a correct representation for the uninitiated, teaching the field is paramount.

As society evolves rapidly, it is difficult to predict the magnitude of the challenges facing young people in the coming decades. However, it is clear that the development of complex problem-solving skills, where knowledge about AI plays an important role, is essential in education in the 21st century.

Complementing, Not Replacing, Traditional Courses

Learning AI, while not the only way to develop innovative thinking, is an interesting vehicle for achieving this. In fact, in recent years, the teaching of AI has become a concern in many business schools. It is an idea that dates back to the 1990s, but it has struggled to make its way for a variety of reasons, including the costs. Currently, AI education is generally limited to sequential, procedural or eventual systems,  often using highly visual tools. However, this should only be the starting point for a strong implementation in the business curricula, either as a new subject or as part of business courses. This does not at all remove the need for traditional business courses. The traditional courses will always remain an essential tool, even if only to visualize what is sometimes very abstract. Moreover, the two approaches should complement each other.

Currently, there is a gap between the academic world and the rest of society. Society is evolving and taking a digital turn at a pace that business schools are struggling to keep up with. The emergence of mobile technologies with Internet access is an example that is still causing debate. Still, discussions about the integration of AI in education seem far-fetched to many. However, as AI takes up more and more space in our daily lives, business schools cannot afford to ignore it. Of course, this does not mean that everything that exists outside of business schools must necessarily end up inside them, but it will require educators to evaluate each application of AI according to its potential. Allowing students to take ownership of these technologies only after they have left the university setting is highly questionable.

Currently, there is a gap between the academic world and the rest of society. Society is evolving and taking a digital turn at a pace that business schools are struggling to keep up with.

On the other hand, it is necessary to ensure that this framework is done with all the information associated with it. The question of the role of the education system in the appropriation of technologies using artificial intelligence is quite relevant, particularly in its ethical dimensions. It is imperative to train professors so that they can make informed educational and educational choices and conduct discussions on ethical issues.

It must finally be recognized that AI is far from replacing human intelligence at present and that it is difficult to estimate the extent of AI development in the future. Projections range from a limited application of AI in the coming decades to the achievement of a technological singularity—a hypothetical point at which computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence—in a relatively near horizon. This singularity would be a point of no return, where AI could develop itself exponentially, jeopardizing the control that human beings might have over it.

Samer Elhajjar is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Balamand, in Lebanon.

For more news about artificial intelligence in Arab research and education, see the following related articles:


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