Robot U: The First American A.I. Undergrad Program is Here, and Already Incredibly Elite

Roko's Basilisk? More like Roko's Pony Keg. All hail.

5. 11. 18 by Foster Kamer
CC0/Victor Tangermann

As if the point needs belaboring, but sure: The future of technology, no matter how far down the line you trace it, will inevitably run into A.I. at some point. So it’s fitting — if not overdue — that an established, esteemed American university would offer up an undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence.

And that school is Carnegie Mellon University, of course. Per the MIT Tech Review, the program will be run out of the college’s School of Computer Science. It’ll involve the social and ethical impacts of A.I. as much as it will computational learning, along with the technical knowhow to have a decent grasp on what the future of A.I. is going to be, and maybe practical work on some of it, too (as a precursor to joining CMU’s top-flight status as the graduate school for A.I.).

As Tech Review correctly points out, there’s a serious delta where the relationship between companies looking for A.I. talent and actual A.I. talent (programmers/engineers, policy wonks, etc) is concerned, and CMU is whip-smart to be the first to try to fill it. No doubt, from Day Zero, this is going to be one hell of a competition for rising high school seniors to get into. They have to spend a year in SCS as freshman and stay sober enough to keep up the scholastic output for Year Two, at which point, they’d be accepted into the A.I. program.

And how many students will be accepted? Per Carnegie Mellon:

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Initially, AI undergraduate enrollment will accommodate no more than 100 second-, third- and fourth-year students — or about 30–35 new students each year. (SCS enrolls about 735 undergraduates.) In fall 2018, a limited number of second- and third-year students who have already taken a substantial number of relevant courses can apply to join the new AI degree program.

For those keeping count at home, that’s about four percent of the newly-enrolled Carnegie Mellon SCS students, which is a pretty elite set of kids (and a less-s0-but-still-impressive 14% from all enrolled SCS students).

Essentially, if you aspire to come out of college with a job in A.I. (and a paycheck absurdly inflated against a starved talent market), we wish you luck, would tell you to apply here, and just ask that you one-up that automated-dorm-room kid from Berkeley with a far more viral, myopic, and hedonistic use for your newfound talents. At the very least, here’s hoping they get really good at convincing upperclassmen to buy them beer using Roko’s Pony Keg.


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