Job security is NOT in danger |

Rather than seeing AI as a threat, higher education can leverage it, freeing up faculty and staff to spend more time having meaningful interactions with students.


Srikanth Danapal

Artificial intelligence – the ability of software or a bot to mimic or perform tasks that historically required humans – has advanced over the years and continues to do so. In higher education, some of its uses include self-study applications and tutoring, in student chat rooms, and monitoring enrollment trends. But rather than seeing AI as a threat, those in higher education can leverage AI to accomplish tasks that don’t require a person, leaving faculty and staff with more time to work on things. meaningful interactions with students in two-way dialogues that software or robots cannot. carry out.

What is AI and how is it used today?

There is a more basic level of AI used in today’s business world. AI is being used as chatbots, to spot patterns in data, and to offload tasks that are more manual in nature and take up valuable time that a real person could use more efficiently elsewhere. As currently developed and perhaps indefinitely, they are not designed to replace faculty and staff at the higher education level. This may never happen because human interaction with students, for example, in a give-and-take discussion, is difficult to replicate with a bot.

In addition, there are different shades of Artificial Intelligence:

  • Narrow Artificial Intelligence (ANI)/Narrow AI/Weak AI: This is the type of artificial intelligence commonly used today in a variety of applications and routine tasks. The ANI aims to perform a specific task that would otherwise require a human. Sorting photos into categories using facial recognition is one example. Significant progress is being made at the ANI level.
  • General Artificial Intelligence: This is the hypothetical ability of an intelligent agent to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. While this type of AI is envisioned as a bot that could look and mimic a human, AGI is still a work in progress.
  • great artificial intelligence: ASI refers to when the the capacity of the computers will be to go past the collective intelligence of all the smartest humans. Currently, ASI is the stuff that only exists in sci-fi movies and novels.

Today, AI involves the ability of software or a bot to perform lower-level tasks that would traditionally require human intelligence. In the field of higher education, it is used to provide technical support, for example to students and staff. It is also used to analyze data – predict future enrollment trends, possible issues with student housing, to detect security risks, cost increases, and to identify outages in specific buildings on campus. It is also widely used to detect plagiarism in a student’s written submissions and to monitor requests for supervision (according to EDUCAUSE). AI has come of age over the past five years in higher education scenarios and budgetary constraints (especially in the era of COVID) have made AI more attractive for scaling reasons and profitability.

Artificial Intelligence can’t do everything

AI cannot do “everything” and at this point it does not eliminate vital teaching tasks. It does not replace teachers and instructors. AI can provide faculty and staff with tools to augment what they do in a teaching environment. Because of this, it’s not “dangerous”, a common misconception drawn from popular culture.

The facts are: without achieving AGI/ASI, human staff members must always be on standby to solve what a bot cannot. Business, education and society may never reach the level of super artificial intelligence. Second, emotional intelligence is an important part of student-teacher interaction (sympathy, empathy, etc.), which has not been supplanted by AI. Humans are still needed to support many functions for the current level of AI capability

While the use of AI in academia increases as software becomes more sophisticated and intuitive, it’s not a threat to people who work on campus or teach online. The opposite is true. AI can, especially after hours, solve many of the routine queries someone might enter in a chat. For example, when San Francisco State University launched an AI chatbot as a proof of concept to help support the IT help desk, there were nearly 200 sessions in the very first week, in particularly after office hours and on weekends when regular services were not available. The data showed that around 70% of chats resulted in the user getting the right pointer or resolution without the need for additional interaction – a classic example of service expansion with existing staff.

here to stay

Artificial intelligence is here to stay in many professions and areas of life, including higher education. He’s not leaving. In fact, the AI ​​will become more sophisticated over time. Look for more off-the-shelf products suitable for a particular task, perhaps written for the higher education environment to help produce routine reports for example.

If ever the level of Artificial General Intelligence and subsequently Super Artificial Intelligence is achieved in an academic setting, it will still not replace professors and teachers. Rather, it will free up academics and others involved in the learning process to invest more in students and provide a deeper and needed educational experience. Think of it as acquiring more “bandwidth” for complex and difficult tasks that require a human touch. AI-driven robots can assist in teaching and have close and limited interactions with students, but cannot take on the role of faculty. In summary, there is no real reason for tenured faculty and staff to worry about job security.

Srikanth Danapal is an electronics engineer with a Masters in Business Administration, based in Northern California. His expertise includes AI chatbots, mobile apps, and modernizing web templates. He is based at San Francisco State University, where he built an AI chatbot for IT support. For more information, please contact [email protected] or

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