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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies debate effects of AI on workforce

Students+present+their+arguments+during+the+Artificial+Intelligence+vs.+Human+Intelligence+debate+hosted+by+ThoughtSpace.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Students present their arguments during the “Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Intelligence” debate hosted by ThoughtSpace.

The student-led technology innovation group ThoughtSpace hosted an Oxford-style debate in Rudder tower Tuesday evening.
The debate, titled “Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Intelligence,” dealt with the pressing question of whether or not, and to what extent, artificial intelligence will affect and change the human workforce.
ThoughtSpace was formed at the beginning of the fall 2018 semester. Industrial distribution junior and ThoughtSpace president Mohamed Bialy said as part of the organization hosts events like this to connect students with educational, business and non-profit stakeholders in the implementation of emerging technology.
“Our value proposition is very simple: we want to provide internships on campus to students,” Bialy said. “We want students to be involved with industry throughout their four years.”
In recognition of the groups potential, three weeks ago the Texas A&M School of Innovation signed an agreement with the group to provide funding and resources.
The debate motion was “AI will replace the human workforce.” The proponents were general engineering freshman Ethan Merrill, physics freshman Andrew Powell, general engineering freshman Korbin Miguel and industrial engineering sophomore Brahim Farhani. The opponents were general engineering freshman Joseph Jackson, business administration freshman Joseph Almond, Blinn engineering academy sophomore Ekaterina Usoltseva and economics freshman Alex Keller.
The proponents argued that by replacing human workers, AI will liberate people from the tyranny of wage labor and allow them to pursue true fulfillment in their lives.
“The things that we take time to do [will be] done in fractions of a second and we will live a purposeful life where we can do anything else,” Farhani said.
The opponents argued that AI can only aid human workers — not replace them — and that people will never accept a society in which humans are denied the satisfaction and dignity of work.
“AI does not have the capacity to replace all the human labor force,” Usoltseva said. “Knowledge isn’t only driving it but also changes due to environmental demands.”
Based on audience votes, the debate was won by the proponents of the motion.
Bialy said audience members should open themselves up to the broader conversation of AI and the gaps in their own knowledge about the topic rather than only focusing on the specific topic of the debate. 
“[Take] the time to consider the question at hand,” Bialy said. “Really think about what they are going to do to prepare for the future — whether they are going to be ahead or behind the curve.”
Almond was named best debater of the night. He said he hopes events like this will help foster durable relationships between students and companies and expose students to important industry topics.
“I think the organization could completely change the way internships are done and companies and students interact,” Almond said. “There’s a lot of work to be done … but it has the potential to get there.”
Bialy said the long term goal of the organization is to create a student-accessible network of talent across universities and nations.
“[Thought Space] will create a giant database of talent and people that can use that talent wisely and productively,” Bialy said.

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