It had been a long day for Po-Shen Loh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Team USA’s coach for the International Mathematical Olympiad, who is traveling to 65 cities and giving 124 lectures before the next school year like he’s on a personal mission to meet every single American math geek.
He started that morning at a Brooklyn middle school with a large percentage of low-income students before driving to a top-ranked high school on Long Island that afternoon and coming back to Queens in the evening. But the scholar had the energy of a fourth-grader on Skittles as he delivered a talk called “How to Survive the ChatGPT Invasion.” And his simple, practical advice applied to everyone in the auditorium.
“Think about what makes humans human,” Loh said, “and lean into that as hard as possible.”
He says the key to survival is knowing how to solve problems—and knowing which problems to solve. He urges math nerds to focus on creativity, emotion and the stuff that distinguishes man from machine and won’t go obsolete. As artificial intelligence gets smarter, the premium on ingenuity will become greater. This is what he wants to drill into their impressionable young minds: Being human will only be more important as AI becomes more powerful.
It’s not just students who should be paying attention to Po-Shen Loh. The lesson that he’s evangelizing in schools is useful for any business that might be wondering how it’s going to be warped by the existential threat of artificial intelligence.
Which is every business.
Photographed for The Wall Street Journal, with words by Ben Cohen.The Brilliant Math Coach Teaching America’s Kids to Outsmart AI
This professor is traveling the country with simple advice for an uncertain future: Be more human.