Once the core American curriculum meant reading, writing and arithmetic, but Stanford professor Mehran Sahami says we might soon have to add a fourth skill to that list, “coding.”
Sahami thinks deeply about such matters. He’s the leading force behind recent changes in Stanford’s computer science curriculum. He notes that it may not be surprising that more students are choosing to major in computer science than ever before, but what might turn heads is the changing face and intellectual landscape of the field. With concerted effort, more women and minorities, and even students from traditional liberal arts and sciences backgrounds, are venturing into computer science.
Sahami says coding has become more than just video-games, social media and smartphone apps. The field is an intellectual endeavor taking on the biggest issues of our day — particularly in its influence on data-driven decision making, personal privacy, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, and the role of large platforms like Google, Facebook and Apple on free speech issues.
Sahami says that computers and algorithms are now part of the fabric of everyday life and how the future plays out will depend upon realizing more cultural and gender diversity in computer science classrooms and encouraging multidisciplinary thinking throughout computer science.