Hong Kong University AI Lecturers

Hong Kong University AI Lecturers
Hong Kong University AI Lecturers

Using virtual reality headsets, students at a Hong Kong university travel to a pavilion above the clouds to watch an AI-generated Albert Einstein explain game theory.

The students are part of a course at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) that is testing the use of "AI lecturers" as the artificial intelligence revolution hits campuses around the world.

The mass availability of tools such as ChatGPT has sparked optimism about new leaps in productivity and teaching, but also fears over cheating, plagiarism and the replacement of human instructors.

Professor Pan Hui, the project lead for HKUST's AI project, is not worried about being replaced by the tech and believes it can actually help ease what he described as a global shortage of teachers.

"AI teachers can bring in diversity, bring in an interesting aspect, and even immersive storytelling," Hui said.

In his "Social Media for Creatives" course, AI-generated instructors teach 30 post-graduate students about immersive technologies and the impact of digital platforms.

These instructors are generated after presentation slides are fed into a programme. The looks, voices and gestures of the avatars can be customized, and they can be displayed on a screen or VR headsets.

This is mixed with in-person teaching by Hui, who says the system frees human lecturers from the "more tedious" parts of their job.

Educators around the world are grappling with the growing use of generative AI, from trying to reliably detect plagiarism to setting the boundaries for the use of such tools.

While initially hesitant, most Hong Kong universities last year allowed students to use AI to degrees that vary from course to course.

For now, despite the wow factor for students, the technology is far from the level where it could pose a serious threat to human teachers.