AI means kids should learn good judgment, not code, Centerview Founder says

The growth of artificial intelligence means young people should be learning how to think critically and have good judgment, rather than developing coding skills, according to one of New York’s top bankers. “I’m not sure, if I was advising my kids, that learning how to be great coders is going to matter in 10 years,” Centerview Partners LLC co-founder Blair Effron said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s David Westin. “What will matter is: Do you have judgment? Do you have an ability to think critically and ask questions that need to be asked?”

Effron, known for his role in some of the largest deals in US corporate history, said his investment bank is looking for people who have those types of skills, and it’s “less about whether you can make a great model.” That’s because AI is likely to replace some of the traditional skill sets associated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he said.

The growth of AI, including with tools such as ChatGPT, has captivated the attention of economists and executives as they try to assess risks and opportunities presented by the new technology. Christopher Pissarides, a Nobel Prize-winning labor market economist, said this month that young people should focus on “empathetic” skills in an economy dominated by AI.

The shift is forcing business schools to review their own business models and adapt, too, said Effron, who has an MBA from Columbia University. His firm ranked sixth in Bloomberg’s dealmaking league table last year, helping to arrange almost 12% of global deals by value.

M&A, Election

A growing optimism among C-suite executives that the US has avoided a significant economic downturn means 2024 should see a resurgence in mergers and acquisitions, Effron said in the interview.

“There’s no reason to think that if it’s a $4 trillion market on average for the past five years, we don’t get to that level again in 2024,” Effron said. “Again, hope springs eternal, but I am optimistic.”

A fellow top dealmaker, Ken Moelis, on Thursday warned of a slowdown in the economy because the consumer is “running out of gas.” Sharp declines in consumer spending could accelerate rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, encouraging more deals, Moelis said.

Effron cautioned that there are still looming risks to the US economy if Donald Trump beats President Joe Biden in November’s election. Effron, who is a donor to the Democratic Party, said that it was “underappreciated” how much Biden had done for the economy and that a second Trump term risked alienating valuable allies.

“Having an important, steady relationship with allies and adversaries, where you’re protecting US interests but also looking after the interests of corporate America, I think does matter,” he said.

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