Event Summary

On July 10, AEI hosted Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun to discuss his recent book, “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” (MIT Press, 2017), with AEI’s Brent Orrell and Stan Veuger.

Dr. Aoun introduced the concepts outlined in his book by calling attention to the widespread concern that artificial intelligence (AI) will destroy more jobs than it will create. In the discussion that followed, he demonstrated that while education providers will have to adjust, AI cannot automate out the workforce, as many jobs require human thought and connection. He emphasized that the key to responding to the challenges new technology is bringing to education and the workforce is to focus career training on the humanics and lifelong learning.

Dr. Aoun’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Orrell and Dr. Veuger, who emphasized the complexity of predicting the effects of automation on labor and highlighted strategies for retraining the workforce. Audience members also asked a series of questions, relating Dr. Aoun’s recommendations to the financial burden of higher education and to the value of liberal arts degrees in training the next generation in the humanics. The event concluded with Dr. Aoun highlighting the need for colleges and universities to incorporate experiential and lifelong learning, in which students connect theory learned in the classroom to practice outside of the classroom, into curriculums.

— Clare O’Connor

Event Description

Today, nearly every conversation about the future of work and the modern economy is dominated by the specter of robotics and intelligent machines. In his new book, “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” (MIT Press, 2017), Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun confronts the need for colleges and universities to meet the challenge — and opportunity — presented by smart machines. His blueprint features three primary components: a new curriculum for the artificial intelligence age, the case for experiential learning, and a call for higher education to place lifelong learning at the heart of the educational enterprise.

Join AEI for a discussion on the key recommendations from Dr. Aoun’s book and the implications for the future of higher education and human capital development.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


10:15 AM

10:30 AM
Brent Orrell, AEI

10:35 AM
Opening remarks:
Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern University

10:50 AM
Panel discussion

Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern University
Stan Veuger, AEI

Brent Orrell, AEI

11:30 AM

11:45 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Caleb Seibert at [email protected], 202.828.6027.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Joseph E. Aoun is the seventh president of Northeastern University. He is a well-known higher education thought leader and renowned scholar in linguistics. An internationally respected voice on the value of global and experiential education, Dr. Aoun has led the expansion of experiential learning — centered on Northeastern’s signature co-op program — to offer opportunities for work, research, service, and global study in 136 countries. He has strategically aligned the university’s use-inspired research enterprise with three global imperatives — health, security, and sustainability — a focus supported by seven new interdisciplinary research institutes. Dr. Aoun is the author of numerous articles and books, including “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” (The MIT Press, 2017). Dr. Aoun was recently appointed as chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the president of France. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past chair of the American Council on Education. He came to Northeastern from the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, where he was the inaugural holder of the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair. He received a PhD in linguistics and philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and advanced degrees from the University of Paris VIII and Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon.

Brent Orrell is a resident fellow at AEI, where he works on retraining programs for individuals without college degrees, including youth, and reentry programs for former prisoners. Mr. Orrell, who has more than 20 years of experience working in the legislative and executive branches of the US government, has worked for the US Department of Labor as an acting assistant secretary in the Employment and Training Administration and as the director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He has also served as deputy assistant secretary for policy and external relations in the Administration for Children and Families division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI, where he specializes in political economy and public finance. He is also the editor of AEI Economic Perspectives and a fellow at the IE School of Global and Public Affairs in Madrid and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He was a visiting lecturer of economics at Harvard University in fall 2016 and 2018. His research has been published in leading academic and professional journals, including the Journal of Monetary Economics, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, and The Review of Economics and Statistics. Dr. Veuger is the editor, with Michael Strain, of “Economic Freedom and Human Flourishing: Perspectives from Political Philosophy” (AEI Press, 2016). Dr. Veuger also comments frequently on economics, politics, and popular culture for general audiences. His writings have been featured in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, The New York Times, and USA Today, among others. His broadcast appearances include CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and Univision. He received a PhD and an AM in economics from Harvard and an MS in economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barceona. He completed his undergraduate education in the Netherlands at Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Sort By:

Refine Content:



  • Event (3454)

Additional Keywords:

Refine Results
Refine Content