The Future of Tech Lies in Humanities Degrees

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The tech industry has long been very attractive to young professionals, offering an engaging and potentially lucrative career. Consequently, the technical nature of many roles has begun to generate a feeling that non-technical degrees are not worth the effort. Yet, with the pace of development of emerging technologies like AI and quantum computing, this is not necessarily accurate.

As the new academic year approaches, fewer students will start a degree in the arts and humanities subjects than before. We have seen a drop of 40,000 enrollments over the past decade and Sheffield Hallam University recently suspended its English Literature degree. Members of the UK government have amplified this belief by speculating on the phasing out of degrees with low earning potential, with the reasoning that they do not equip young workers with the skills needed for our current job market.

At the same time, we are at the dawn of a potential quantum era. Quantum computing, with its unprecedented speeds and processing power, promises to transform our computing capabilities and drive the development of next-generation AI. Naturally, we will need to equip our emerging workforce with complementary skills, leading to an increase in the popularity of STEM degrees. Acceptances into computer science courses have increased by nearly 50% over the past decade, and acceptances into new AI courses have seen a dramatic increase of 400%.

But this is not the end of the human sciences, far from it. In fact, humanities degrees are going to be essential in the rapidly changing world of technology.

Dealing with ethical dilemmas

Although once heralded as a technology from movies and science fiction, AI is now a mainstream reality of modern life and quantum computing will soon follow. Forecasts show that by next year, 25% of the Fortune Global 500 will use some form of quantum computing to gain competitive advantage. However, many questions remain as to what proper use actually looks like.

Regulation of quantum computing and other advanced technologies will be essential to ensure they are not abused or misused. Already, we face issues with AI and quantum that need to be addressed – for example, the intrinsic AI bias problem. The effects of bias in datasets will only be intensified by quantum computing, and it will become impossible to manually analyze and correct for its impact. To effectively manage quantum management and regulation, we must develop skills such as ethics and decision-making – valuable skills that arts and humanities degrees inherently teach students.

We can already see a plethora of ethical dilemmas emerging. As the quantum computing trend explodes, how will we ensure it is used in a socially responsible way? How are we going to enable equitable access to quantum computing? How to stop the monopolization of quantum by companies? There are many issues we can’t foresee, but we know we’re going to need tough standards in the tech industry, and we need people to set them and enforce them – and they’re unlikely to happen. come from the pure technology or scientific community, whose focus tends to be solely on progress.

Time is running out for developers

The inherent fast-paced nature of the tech industry means that labor market needs are constantly changing. For example, software developers are currently more and more in demand. There are over 465,700 software development professionals and programmers in the UK, more than double the 224,000 there were ten years ago in 2011. However, as technology continues to advance rapidly, the advent of the practical use of quantum computing will begin to render these software developer jobs obsolete as the knowledge required evolves.

It has been suggested that the half-life of a specific technical skill is now only 2.5 years. With the intense speed of technological development, all the skills acquired today could be redundant a few years after graduation.

Therefore, instead of focusing exclusively on equipping our workforce with specific technical skills, we need to prepare for the longer-term demands that will be needed when the technology itself replaces the pace of development. human. Supplementing a technology-focused workforce with non-technical workers with different perspectives, such as those with a humanities background, can provide balance and allow teams to more easily navigate these changing needs, based on knowledge that will not become obsolete as the sector progresses.

Cultivate the skills of tomorrow

As technology advances, many specialized technology roles will become automated. We need to start building the skills we need for our future tech workforce.

Our future workforce will need to possess the soft skills that humanities degrees provide to survive in the rapidly changing technology industry. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills will be essential to be able to deal with unprecedented problems and rapid developments. Communication skills involving public speaking, teamwork, professional writing, and leadership skills will be essential in working with the many companies and groups that will begin working with quantum computing.

In a future where developer jobs may be drastically reduced, those with skills from humanities degrees will be needed for the future of technology.

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