Artificial Intelligence causes shift toward software and computing knowledge in future of job skills

Multimedia reporting by Mariah Posey | May 11, 2017


photo by @ImaginingInternet Twitter

Artificial intelligence is far from being a science-fiction concern. It’s real and according to a May 3, 2017 report put out Pew Research Center, is “eating humans’ jobs talent.” Global consultancy McKinsey reports that as much as 50 percent of the world economy could be affected by automation technologies currently available. That translates to 1.2 billion employees and $14.6 trillion in wages. But, by assessing the future of job skills and job training, more time can be spent prepping for the future of the job market rather than worrying.

“Every job will be affected by artificial intelligence,” said Janna Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet. She added that, “Everybody needs to be a jack of all trades. You need to be able to understand a wide variety of things. It’s not enough to be able to count on Siri or Alexa to answer your questions. You have to be able to synthesize information in a way that provides value for your organization.”

In conducting a survey of more than 1,400 technologies, Pew Research and Elon University’s Imaging the Internet Center found several skills which respondents predicted to be “of most future value.” Of those included adaptability, resilience, empathy and conflict resolution.

Freshman Steven Klausner, an international business and policy studies double major, says that he can see artificial intelligence potentially being a threat to him personally as he intends to work with geopolitical analysis and consultancy.

“AI or any sort of advanced technology, if it gets to the point where it’s advanced enough, will diminish the need for a middle man in between firms trying to decide if it’s safe or advisable to enter a market and the market itself,” Klausner said.

Klausner recognizes that certain skills such as coding and management information may have to be added into core curriculums, but doesn’t feel like anything will ever fully replace human interaction.

“I definitely feel like the ability to be a leader and have leadership qualities and be charismatic are skills that will never go away,” he said. “Even if you do have computers, there’s always going to need to be someone in charge. The ability to relate to a person whether it be personally, intellectually or professionally, that’s just something that’s essential in the work place and in human interaction.”


Sean Walker

Sean Walker, Media Services Lead, also believes that neither computers or machines will ever fully replace human-to-human interaction. The ability to be creative, think in real time, and problem solve are area he believes human will continue to dominate, and says that those currently in school should do fine in the job market.

“I think your generation will be fine because in your lifetime, you’ll probably see artificial intelligence doing things for you. I don’t think you’ll see artificial intelligence really replacing humans in the work force. That might take 100 years.”


Timothy Williams

Timothy Williams, a resident of Roxboro, North Carolina, works at LabCorp and is currently studying mechatronics engineering in school and considers himself a “robotic fanatic.” He thinks basics electrical knowledge will serve anyone will in the future job market.

“Of course you would have to know electronics, at least the basics of electrical circuits and components, period,” Williams said. “On a more advanced note: programming, wiring, manufacturing — all of that plays a part in robotics. But you have to remember that artificial intelligence and robotics in itself are nothing but programs. That program is only going to do what you program it to do. If you program it to do something stupid, it’s going to do something stupid.”

Although Williams hasn’t experienced artificial intelligence replacement personally, he said the possibility does concern him.

“Everything can be a complement, I mean look at computers — they’re complements to our lives because they make things easier,” Williams said. “Technology is here to make life easier, but it still depends on how you use that technology. If a job doesn’t necessarily qualify a human as being adequate for a job, then they should not be in business in my personal opinion. Because if you have nothing monitoring that robot, you’re asking for problems.”

He added that, “Nothing’s better than a human because we learn from our mistakes, robots don’t. They do what they’re programmed to do and that’s it. After that, you can’t expect no more out of it. If they start making mistakes, then where’s the human to fix that?”


Elon University faculty engage in panel discussing the implications of President Trump’s missile strike on Syria

Multimedia journalism by Mariah Posey | April 12, 2017


Panel members left to right: Kaye Usry, Jason Kirk, Baris Kesgin, Haya Ajjan.

U.S. media coverage took an unexpected turn last week when news broke that President Donald Trump authorized a missile strike against the Assad-regime airbase. Trump said his actions were in response to the chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people, but some feel the strike was a policy reversal for the president who campaigned on staying out of conflict.

To initiate discussion and clear up lingering questions regarding the strike and its implications, members of Elon University faculty engaged in a panel Wednesday, April 11 at 4:15p.m. in Moseley 215. Safia Swimelar, associate professor of political science and policy studies, said as unfortunate as the events going on in Syria are, they need to be talked about. In moderating the panel, she aimed to provide context on the situation by discussing the humanitarian aspect as well as geopolitics and strategy, foreign policy and domestic relations under the Trump administration.

Ajjan pull“My family and I were actually glued to the TV,” said Haya Ajjan, associate professor of management information systems, speaking of when news broke last Thursday night. Just two days before on Tuesday, news coverage focused on the chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed more than 100 people. Many blamed President Bashar al-Assad and his government, considering it a war crime against his own people.

“I looked over at my husband and actually he was crying,” Ajjan said, recalling the night she first heard about the chemical attack. “We both had tears in our eyes. We cried for the more than 5,000 soles that had died. I wondered, how many babies would be orphaned today?”

Although Ajjan is unsure of the impact Trump’s strike will have on war, she said she thinks it sent an important message.

“In the past three years, we Syrians have witnessed a lot of loss,” she said. “Assad and Putin are under the belief that they could do whatever they want, as they have for years, and no one can stop them.”

What the Trump administration proved with the missile strike she said, though controversial, is that these “atrocities are no longer tolerated.”

But the problem arises in analyzing how suddenly the decision to authorize the strike was made, leaving room for uncertainty in regard to the future direction of the president’s administration.

“As faculty, as Americans, as non-Americans, we’d all be forgiven for being pretty confused,” said Jason Kirk, associate professor of political science and policy studies. “It is an extraordinary shift in the vision of Trump’s presidency, in his goals for the world.”

Kirk added, “It feels like Trump made [what he considered to be] a good decision based off what looked good to him, and those who approved based it on last week. Period.”

Kirk said it’s important to keep in mind that there is often disorganization in the early days of any administration, but feels that what the Trump administration has demonstrated so far is “extraordinary disorganization in the White House.” Part of that, he says, is due to Trump’s shortcomings with staffing members of his team.

“It’s very difficult to conduct foreign policy when you’re missing layers of bureaucracy,” he said. “People who know things about places. Government and leadership requires that.”

Later, he added, “I don’t know how much to ascribe strategy to it versus just they didn’t expect to win the presidency. And they didn’t really plan for a lot of this. They didn’t plan for the White House Easter egg hunt. They didn’t do a lot of things and I think time will tell.”

According to Baris Kesgin, associate professor of political science, the Trump administration has failed at giving consistent signaling as to their course of action.

“Even the congress at this point is not knowledgeable of the Syrian game plan,” he said. “That is unfortunate.”

Though it’s clear that Trump was trying to send a message, it’s unclear of what that message is for certain. Trump felt that Assad crossed the line by waging a chemical attack on his people, but Kirk wonders if that “line” has been definitely laid out enough for the U.S. strike to have accomplished its goal. He says that confusion may only lead to more strife.


This map shows how populated different parts of Syria are with individual forces of power.

“The stakes are too high,” Kirk said. “There’s an international audience to this. If people are confused by what Trump means by this, if Assad doesn’t know what lines not to transgress going forward, then he’ll either decide it doesn’t matter or he’s left in a position to continue to test the U.S. to figure out where these lines might lie.”

As foreign involvement in the Syrian conflict continues to grow, discussion around it becomes fuzzier. According to Ajjan, as the years have progressed, the plan for finding a military solution to ending war in Syria has become less and less clear.

“We used to have a plan in 2012 and in 2013, but now there are too many players on the ground,” she said.

Though Trump has taken an action he believes will prove that the U.S. won’t stand for abuse and suffering, his questionable long-term motives and haste in decision-making leaves much to be speculated.

Kirk acknowledged that there’s really no way for Americans to fully grasp how the president plans to handle foreign policy going forward, but is confident that it will one day come out.

“Part of the nice quality of having such a chaotic early administration is people are eventually going to write books about this stuff,” Kirk said. “They’re going to be tripping over each other to tell us what’s going on. We’ll just have to wait a few years.”

Walking and talking on beat: the importance of shoe-leather journalism, reporting beats & local reporting

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 10, 2017

Both the newsroom and process of obtaining news have changed drastically as things settled into the digital age, but the old-fashioned term “shoe-leather” still describes the best kind of reporting done in America, according to chapter two, “Local Reporting and Beats”, of America’s Best News Writing (ABNW). Shoe-leather reporting requires the reporter to leave the crutch of telephones and computers behind. Instead, they have get out and interact with the community, hear out concerns and create the opportunity for those stories to be told. It’s the act of walking and talking.

In the conversation of beat reporting — or a specialized area of in-depth coverage for a reporter — shoe-leather goes hand-in-hand. Regardless of the beat, the need to develop sources, form a relationship with the community and continue learning as you broaden your horizons is always important.

Below are some examples of reporters who figured out how to walk the walk and talk the talk successfully.

Rick Bragg – “All She Has, $150,000, Is Going to a University” (1995)


Thomas Boswell – “Losing It: Careers Fall Like Autumn Leaves” (1980)


Jonathan Bor – “It Fluttered and Became Bruce Murray’s Heart” (1984)


Mitch Albom – “Mackenzie Football Star Another Gunplay Victim (1995)


Russell Eshleman Jr. – “Even for Trees, Age Could Have Its Privileges” (1991)

“Domino’s Bites Back at Tax” (1991)


Dan Neil – “Caught Up in the Crossfire (2003)