CCS02120 372x451 - TSTC Computer Networking and Systems Administration instructor speaks about AI’s role in the industry

(RED OAK, Texas) – An instructor from Texas State Technical College spoke on how artificial intelligence’s (AI) role in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration industry.

Jacob Usery, lead instructor for the Computer Networking and Systems program on TSTC’s North Texas campus, spoke about AI, its role in the industry and TSTC’s role in preparing students for the changes it may bring.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

While it sounds pretty new, it’s a buzzword right now everybody’s hearing about it, it was actually invented back in the ’50s. So it actually predates the internet. People have been working on it for the past 70 years, so it’s not a new technology, and it’s not necessarily something that people need to be afraid of.

Fast forward to today, we’re using it for network automation, we’re using it for personal assistants, and to manage our smart devices within our homes and in our offices. It’s pretty widely adopted and It’s really widely used, even in some cases where you may not know it. 

What role is it playing in computer networking?

In computer networking, we’ve been using AI for a while, but it was more of a simplistic AI. We would feed it data and it would perform a task based on those functions, so automation. In our data centers, we used it to provision and manage our virtual machines and virtual networks. 

How has that role changed in past years?

In the past, automation was primarily used to complete repetitive tasks. In recent years, those tasks, the things that we’re asking AI to do, are becoming a lot more sophisticated. These are pretty complex tasks that network administrators have had to manage in the past and doing so takes away time when they could be doing other things as far as network planning, efficiency  and analysis. So the main way is it’s helping you improve the efficiency, security and agility of computer networks. 

One thing about that, though, and this is the concern that I’ve heard time and time again is, “will AI be taking over network administrator roles?” The fact is no, the AI is there to supplement those human employees in those roles. It’s to make our lives, not necessarily easier, but more efficient. So employers are going to be getting more from the network professionals that they hire.

How does this affect the industry and how are TSTC’s students prepared for those changes? 

Security is going to be, I think, impacted more than anything else. Network security, cybersecurity are hugely important when it comes to computer networks. Our computer networking program gives a broad understanding of networks, and it will create students that understand the complexities of modern networks and how they can be improved upon in the future. 

Are there any cons to AI and how is TSTC preparing students to handle those?

Just implementing and managing AI is going to be a pretty complex and involved task that’s going to require a lot of skilled professionals, and they’re going to have to have expertise in both AI and networking. With AI, not being a new field, but being an emerging tech right now, most of the folks that have networking understanding or networking knowledge may not have as much AI (knowledge), and the folks that may have AI knowledge probably have very little, if any networking knowledge. The way that’s going to move forward is to have folks that have an understanding of both, and to do that, we better start from a base.

(TSTC is) turning out those network professionals. We’re building really employable (and) marketable network professionals, network administrators, systems administrators and network analysts. All of those things that students are going to be able to do whenever they receive their degree from the computer networking program, they’re going to be able to use that in practice immediately and be beneficial to employers that are trying to explore AI options.

Anything else you think people should know about AI?

It’s here, it’s not going anywhere, that egg has been cracked. Now we all just need to understand how it’s going to be the most useful to us. So, I think that the best way forward is to have an outlook that it’s here and it’s a tool, and what’s the best way that we can use that tool.

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