The implications for higher education: AI could extend the possibilities for delivering teaching. As futurist and innovation adviser Martin Hamilton (pictured) noted upon taking the stage during the session, virtual reality can be used to create learning environments that are inaccessible in the physical realm.
"Let's say you are doing a nuclear safety course," he said. "We want to visit Chernobyl, but not only is it ruinously expensive for a big group of people, it is also dangerous. And there are places that you can't go to, like Palmyra. Isis, Daesh, blew up the temples at Palmyra – they don't exist anymore. But they exist in 3D. They exist in the digital realm."
Mr Hamilton forecast that AI might change how we think of the campus, facilitating more sophisticated and immersive distance learning. He noted that the opportunities were immense – but he also urged caution.
There are ethical concerns that universities must be aware of when using AI: data must be safeguarded and designers must be aware of users' sentiments and values when creating student-facing systems. Diversity in design teams is critical in order to mitigate this, Mr Hamilton argued.
"Who here has an AI strategy?" he asked the audience. Just a few hands were raised. In five years' time, might that have changed? As Mr Hamilton implied, it might well have to. (F: THE 06.02.20)