Students explore impact of artificial intelligence on business

Texarkana freshman Taylor Sexton participated in a competition that was a part of the Global Business Forum.

By Corrie Coleman | Reporter

The Baylor Global Business Forum presented “The Automated World,” a series of events about the impact of technology on business last week in the Paul L. Foster Business School. Speakers, luncheons and discussions from March 12-16 encouraged students to explore the possibilities and potential challenges of a future with artificial intelligence (AI).

AI, computer systems that are able to do tasks which usually require humans, is a rapidly growing field of study. Many people have questioned what global business will look like in the future as technologies like self-driving cars and behavioral algorithms drastically expand current business capabilities.

South Africa senior Claire Harvey is the president of Baylor Global Business Connect, an organization that helps plan the Global Business Forum each year. Harvey hopes students who attended the events were encouraged to participate in the ongoing conversation about technology in business.

“In the Hankamer School of Business, they’re really emphasizing using technology so it’s really important that we understand and are able to keep up,” Harvey said. “I really hope that people get out there and start thinking about ways that technology can be used efficiently in business.”

Jewett senior Pawandeep Singh participated in a competition at the end of the week in which students developed a conceptual marketing plan that could become available through AI. His concept for virtual reality real estate tours won first place and a $250 prize. Sigh believes technology is, without a doubt, the future of business.

“Times are changing,” Singh said. “If the people want more technology and new technology, that’s where the businesses will have to go in order to stay alive.”

Baylor marketing lecturer Jim Anderson has watched as pens and paper have evolved into laptops and smartphones.

“At the beginning, it was books and papers … And now, even in my class, they hardly get a piece of paper,” Anderson said. “No matter what you do, it will be affected by AI … I appreciate these young students who are bringing a millennial perspective to studying and learning the way that we need to.”

In recent years, many discussions have surrounded the ethics of advancing technology, leading to controversy about issues like consumer data collection and the replacement of human workers.

Many experts in science and technology are unsure about the future of AI. Even Stephen Hawking, renowned physicist and mathematician, was conflicted about advances in technology.

“Computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it,” Hawking said last year in Lisbon, Portugal. “Success in creating effective AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know.”

Dr. Stephen Gardner, Baylor economics professor, believes that everyone should be involved in making decisions about the future of AI.

“There are going to be a lot of ethical and social public policy decisions that all of us should be involved in,” Gardner said. “Most students don’t even know [AI] is there, don’t know what it is. They don’t realize how much it’s going to change their lives.”

Gardner hopes that the “Automated World” helped students become more aware and involved in the future of technology.

“The whole series of events this week was meant to be a wake-up call,” Gardner said. “This is the world you are going to be living in. Changes are going to happen more rapidly than you might expect.”