Mark Cuban says AI will reduce the demand for computer science degrees


Businessman Mark Cuban listens as he is introduced at the South by Southwest Music Film Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, March 12, 2017.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Today’s highest-paid college major will someday hold little value for some employers, according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

The value of a computer science degree, often seen as a practical choice of college major, will diminish as artificial intelligence continues to advance, he said in an interview with editor at large Kara Swisher on the Recode Decode podcast.

“Twenty years from now, if you are a coder, you might be out of a job,” Cuban said. “Because it’s just math and so, whatever we’re defining the AI to do, someone’s got to know the topic. If you’re doing an AI to emulate Shakespeare, somebody better know Shakespeare … the coding major who graduates this year probably has better short-term opportunity than the liberal arts major that’s a Shakespeare expert, but long term, it’s like people who learned COBOL or Fortran and thought that was the future and they were going to be covered forever.”

Computer science tops the list of the highest-paying college majors with a median base salary of $70,000, according to Glassdoor. The most in-demand job of 2019 is application software developer, according to a report from CareerCast, which has a median salary of $101,790.

But Cuban said the short-term benefits of a computer science degree will someday be overtaken by the long-term gains of a degree in the humanities.

“Creativity, collaboration, communication skills: Those things are super important and are going to be the difference between make or break,” Cuban said. “In an AI world, you have to be knowledgeable about something, right?”

In the future, according to Cuban, high-skilled workers will decide what they want neural networks to achieve and predict potential problems. Low-skilled workers, on the other hand, will label data that is used to train the AI, similar to the way a warehouse worker might organize materials.

Read the full transcript of the Cuban’s interview on Recode.

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Watch: CNBC’s full interview with Mark Cuban


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