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Business Schools Increasingly Embrace AI

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As the next generation of business leaders work their way through business school, they’re being taught with an AI future in mind.

Artificial intelligence might be having a nominal effect on employment today, but its potential for disruption is on par with that of the Internet, some say. And for college students, that’s ramping up anxiety.

Knowing that such dramatic change is coming can be useful, however. And many universities and business schools are incorporating expected changes in the business world due to AI into their curriculum. It not only helps prepare students for the what-ifs, it broadens the pool of future workers who are AI proficient, something businesses are desperately looking to hire for now.

At American University’s Kogod School of Business, AI is a big part of the educational process. Professors at the school teach some component of the technology in 20 new or adapted classes. That shift came after venture capitalist Brett Wilson visited the campus and spoke with Kogod’s dean, telling him the real threat to students wasn’t AI, but instead it would be professionals who are more skilled in deploying the technology, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Columbia Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business have also increased their focus on AI fluency, with 40% of prospective students saying they believed learning the ins and outs of AI was becoming an essential skill in business.

It’s not enough to just know how to ask ChatGPT questions, but workers won’t be required to know how to develop a large language model, experts say. Instead, success in business in the future will require knowing how to direct an AI search, setting parameters and learning to recognize the garbage AI can easily spew out. Students are learning to recognize the technology’s weaknesses and pitfalls and work around them or improve them.

Learning AI in a university setting also teaches responsibility and lets students explore how best to embrace and utilize the technology in a safe space, not one where revenues/profits and company secrets are potentially at risk.

Some might dismiss AI as a fad, but the technology seems certain to be a lasting part of the workplace. Reports that it can save employees nearly 400 hours of working time per year are hard for companies to shrug off, given the productivity potential. Generation Z sees AI as a collaborative tool, as well as one that can offer them job security.

Gen Z isn’t exactly native to AI (Generation Alpha, their younger siblings, might be the first to make claim), but the technology is hitting the mainstream world at a time these young adults are most curious to learn new things, which could give them an advantage over the existing workforce in the years to come.

AI is set to have a substantial financial impact in the coming years. A report from McKinsey found that AI could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy by 2040. To put that into perspective: The United Kingdom’s entire GDP in 2021 was $3.1 trillion. In addition, it could enable labor productivity growth of 0.1 to 0.6% annually in that same time.

“Generative AI will have a significant impact across all industry sectors. Banking, high tech, and life sciences are among the industries that could see the biggest impact as a percentage of their revenues from generative AI,” the report read.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience, more than half of which were spent with some of the Internet’s biggest sites, including CNNMoney.com, where he was Director of Content Development, and Yahoo! Finance, where he was managing editor. Today, he writes for dozens of national outlets including Digital Trends, Fortune, and CNBC.com.

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