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The Transformative Potential of AI and Immersive Technologies in Education

By J. Arnaud  

At the Night of Ideas event at Harvard University, Jean Arnaud, a co-founder of a startup focused on providing AI-enabled immersive learning environments, discussed the potential of combining artificial intelligence and immersive technologies in education. Arnaud explored how these technologies could revolutionize the way we approach learning, with the use of avatars combined with AI yielding exceptional benefits for students, including promoting personal development and inclusion. However, he also shows the importance of recognizing the limits of these thechnologies, which should be used as a tool to amplify human intelligence and ideas, not to control them.

Recently, Harvard University hosted the Night of Ideas event, which was co-organized by Villa Albertine and the French Consulate. The event drew an impressive array of participants, including Nobel Prize laureates, intellectuals, scholars, students, artists, and leaders, who engaged in a captivating exchange of ideas on the topic of “more.” With the world undergoing profound changes and technology evolving at a rapid pace, it has become essential to consider the kind of future we envision for ourselves and future generations. 

As one of the co-founders of NOVA, a startup focused on providing AI-enabled immersive learning environments, I presented alongside Professor James Katz in a session discussing the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and immersive technologies. The session had ruly drawn a diverse and inquisitive crowd that filled up the entire room, eager to explore the potential of metaverses, the virtual worlds, where users can interact with each other and their digital environment as avatars.  

During our discussion on the intersection of technology and education, we explored and discussed how these technologies could revolutionize the way we approach learning in and outside of the classroom. Metaverse has the power to create an immersive, interactive, and personalized learning experience where students can explore ancient cities like Rome while developing critical thinking, analytical skills, and creativity. I noticed a sense of excitement and wonder spreading throughout the room as we discussed the limitless possibilities of these cutting-edge tools. It was a reminder of the transformative potential of technology and the importance of continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible.  

Undoubtedly, active and project-based learning, which is becoming more popular at top schools like OMIA, EJM, and the International School of Boston, is a great way to teach in a new and interesting way. With the addition of AI, these immersive environments offer even more ways to learn. For example, you could meet Julius Caesar and talk to him in Latin, or you could learn about rhetoric or philosophy from Cicero. These experiences not only help students learn more but also encourage their creativity and curiosity, which makes learning more fun and easy to remember. 

The opportunities for technology’s integration into various fields are virtually limitless as it continues to advance. By creating immersive metaverse environments and incorporating AI, NOVA has been exploring new boundaries in the realms of education and art. Nova’s immersive metaverse environments, combined with AI, have yielded exceptional benefits for students. During classroom tests, the use of avatars has been particularly effective in promoting personal development and inclusion. These avatars create a unique shield for students, enabling them to learn and grow in an environment free from discriminatory judgments. By embracing this innovative approach, students are empowered to be their authentic selves, leading to improved engagement and better learning outcomes.  

In addition, avatars have changed the way students interact with each other by removing physical appearance and social status as barriers. This inclusive approach creates a level playing field, allowing all students to contribute and participate equally. With avatars, the potential for a more equitable and effective education system is within reach. Looking to the future, Nova’s vision shows the immense potential of combining AI and the metaverse in education. With the creation of Ai learning assistants, students can receive personalized and on-demand support 24/7 in organizing their schedules, identifying and learning from their mistakes, and developing effective strategies for improvement. These tools also have the ability to assess knowledge and promote a deeper understanding of the world. 

It is essential to utilize these tools in a manner that improves the overall learning experience, leads to a more efficient and effective process, and ensures that every student can reach their full potential. 

Looking at the speed at which technology is developing,  it is clear that our educational system must also evolve. The disruptive nature of new technologies has the potential to revolutionize traditional teaching methods and challenge long-standing assumptions and practices that no longer work. This includes a shift in education from a traditional classroom environment to an unlimited, decentralized universe of immersive, interactive, collaborative, inclusive, and personalized learning experiences. Since education is the fundamental basis of any society, ensuring its success is a collective responsibility shared by educators, administrators, government officials, engineers, philosophers, and parents. 

 As the digital revolution continues to transform all areas of human activity, it is essential that we recognize the limitations of AI and use it as a tool to amplify human intellect and ideas, not to control them. By adopting a philosophical and ethical posture towards technology, we can harness its potential to create a unique and effective learning experience where every student can achieve their potential. However, to ensure that these technologies do not become a tool of control, it is crucial to understand their functioning and potential dangers, such as dependence and security concerns, biases, social isolation, and manipulation. Technology is just a tool, and it is up to us to use it to promote understanding and creativity rather than allow it to control us. 

As we delve into the Q&A during the session, it’s evident that the impact of AI extends far beyond the educational realm. The audience’s comments have encouraged us to also discuss how these technologies are transforming the art world. Sharing my insights as a digital artist who uses the latest tech for my work, I am encouraging participants to see how the meaning of art will change as well. This shift in paradigm also forces us to reconsider the role of the artist and the very definition of a work of art. 

AI is enabling artists to create new interactive, multi-layered experiences that redefine the traditional notion of art. Viewers can actively participate in reconstructing the artwork and contribute to its expansion, ushering in a new era of artistic expression. 

The discussion concludes with philosophical questions: What kind of world do we wish to create through the use of these technologies? What is the “world of more” that artificial intelligence and the metaverse can help create? The time we live in is the new Renaissance, which is driven by the desire to participate in what surpasses us and what shines brightly above us: the dream of “Humanity”. As creators of the future, we must be motivated by the desire to serve humanity and the global community. 

After the event, I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather’s words about the value of education and the importance of spreading knowledge beyond our own borders. He took great pride in his sacrifices that allowed his daughter to attend the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure. As we continue to innovate and use technology, we should always remember to use our knowledge and skills to benefit the world around us, not just ourselves. Let us strive to be a beacon of light, sharing knowledge and understanding with people all over the world. Only by doing so can we create a better future for everyone. 

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