A Modest Proposal

Undergraduate enrolment in computer science has gone up and down several times over the years. We’re currently in a boom, but history teaches that numbers will eventually tumble once again. This is a big problem for colleges and universities, which struggle to staff up during the booms and then have to downsize during the busts.

One way to even out demand would be to cryogenically freeze students in times like these and then thaw them out in the lean year to fill empty seats. Doing this does present some challenges, but they can all be overcome:

  1. How should students be selected for freezing? We could adjust entrance requirements upward in busy years and then store everyone who didn’t make the cutoff, but it would be easier and fairer to use some sort of lottery.

  2. Where will students be stored? As universities digitize their library collections, we could repurpose that space.

  3. Finally, what if classroom places never become available? We recognize that this may be the most significant objection to our plan, but given how quickly virtual reality (VR) technology is progressing, we could place students in a simulated campus while leaving them frozen, which could well be a step up from the MOOCs we’re now herding so many of them into.

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