‘University's role is crucial in up-skiling"

On his tenth visit to India since seven years of President-ship at Dublin City University,Professor Brian MacCraith discussed with Sreerupa Sil about Indo-Irish relations, future of jobs and University’s role in it

Q: What kind of jobs will get affected with the advancement of technology?

I don’t think the full picture is clear yet. However, it is clear that aspects of accountancy, such as fraud detection and some routine task, will be affected. Last year, the White House released a comprehensive report on the impact of AI on jobs. Other examples would include areas of healthcare. For example, the IBM Watson computer is already being used as an advisory system for oncologist. Watson uses natural language processing to extract all the useful information from multiple sources(e.g. medical journals) for effective and faster decision making. I think that is indicative of what’s going to happen in lots of situations.

Q: With AI and IOT hazarding jobs of many, what should industries be doing about it?

Continuous up-skilling is crucial. In fact, I think one of the emerging roles of the university is in Continuing Professional Development (CPD), by partnering with major employers and making sure that staff are being up-skilled on a continuous basis. Individuals or companies, that are not up-skilling themselves or their employees are likely to end up in serious trouble.

Q: What are the elements of a good innovation ecosystem?

An ideal case to study is Taiwan. Taiwan, which was only known for cheap toys and ornaments some time back, now is a global leader in a number of key technologies. The way they did this was to create technology parks like Hsinchu Science Park. DCU also created its Technology Park (DCU Al-pha) that houses about 50 advanced technology companies. Their close proximity to the university makes the collaboration easy. Joint research projects, internships for students, industries using some of our facilities are indicators of this synergistic ecosystem in the DCU campus.

Q: What is your observation of ‘change’ in India or Indian mindset?

A big change we observe is that many Indian students now want to come back to India after study abroad. Ireland, because of the quality of its higher education and its welcoming, safe culture, has become a very attractive destination for Indian students. One of the many reasons for us collaborating with the Indian companies is to create a pathway back to India for our Indian students. I have noticed a greater focus on innovation in India. I’ve watched PM Modi’s speeches focused on innovation with interest. That’s the reason I see India becoming an economic powerhouse soon, particularly at the cutting edge of innovation.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'April 7, 2017' with cover story titled 'BW Education Inaugural Issue April-May 2017'

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