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Education January 31, 2023

Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education



Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education
Whether you like it or not, it's happening.

The use of the metaverse is continuously increasing in different sectors, and now it has become a part of university classes in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The universities of Hiroshima are using this technology as extracurricular activities and part of the classes as well, Japan Times reported.

Also read: Jobs In The Metaverse, Now and Tomorrow

The metaverse allows its users to create avatars to represent themselves while communicating with people from all around the world. Metaverse makes the user feel as if they are talking by looking into each other’s eyes, unlike Zoom and Teams.

Solving Absence Problem

Having such unique features, it has also become the solution for students who are absent from school but still want to attend classes.

“I was feeling distressed and depressed as I only had the chance to speak with my family during my absence from school,” said Noa, a 16-year-old first-year high school student from Hiroshima.

But the time has changed, she was able to participate in a program even while being absent from school through the use of a virtual setup.

“I could spend quality time while feeling relaxed,” she said after taking part in a program held last fall in a metaverse to support absentees from school.

Three people attended that program organized by a local group to make up for absent students.

Noa entered the metaverse as a female avatar with cat ears and travelled with other attendees to hear high school students share their experiences of being absent from school.

The virtual world, also offers a solution for those who hesitate to speak up in reality. It provides a platform where individuals can communicate without psychological barriers, as they feel more comfortable with others in the virtual world.

Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education

“Students who were silent at first could make a presentation on a (virtual) stage in the end,” said Kenichi Okamura, 23, head of the group that organized the program. “I really felt the potential of the metaverse.”

The Hiroshima Prefecture board of education has partnered with the non-profit organization Katariba in Tokyo to offer metaverse-related activities as a learning option for students, per Japan Times.

University Classes in Metaverse

Not, just the bridge for the school absentees, metaverse has also became the topic of university classes in Japan.

“By looking ahead with neofuturistic perspectives, I wanted to try and see how the classes can be expanded,” said Hiroaki Kanoe, a professor of science education at Hijiyama University in Hiroshima, who taught parts of some classes in the metaverse last year.

Kanoe asked third-year students about how the metaverse can be utilized in education during his virtual seminar with them.

Kanoe was intrigued when his student became deeply involved in the discussion surrounding the use of metaverse in education. They even proposed having a virtual environment open during summer holidays, which could potentially reduce absenteeism.

“Compared with online classes, you can feel the presence of others as if you are in a classroom,” said Soko Hamaen, 21, a third-year student who attended a class in metaverse.

“I hope to explore the uses of the metaverse while making clear the purpose of what to do with the technology, instead of jumping at it only because it is new,” said Kanoe.

With the value of the industry estimated to be worth $13 trillion by 2030, the metaverse is being expanded into different areas of livelihood.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


‘GIPPR’ Chatbot for Conservatives Hits the Market



‘GIPPR’ Chatbot for Conservatives Hits the Market

A team of developers has bucked the trend of creating liberal-skewed chatbots, instead creating an AI underpinned with conservative values.

AI chatbot GIPPR trended online on May 6 with thousands of searchers interested in knowing more about the latest technology that has hit the AI-powered market. 

GIPPR is a new chatbot named after the former president of the United States Ronald Reagan who was affectionately known as “the Gipper” by close friends and associates. 

Launched by the development team behind the censorship-free web browser TUSK Browser, GIPPR exists to counter the perceived left-wing bias associated with most AI chatbots such as ChatGPT. Instead, developers trained GIPPR to align with patriots, and U.S. citizens with conservative values. 

Who created AI chatbot GIPPR and why? 

Jeff Bermant is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TUSK, the company behind TUSK Browser and GIPPR. 

He believes that conservative values are not being represented by AI tools such as ChatGPT. Bermant did not mince his words in a recent statement to the press on Saturday.

“We believe that Conservatives are subject to oppressive cancel culture that now includes AI and are expected to exist in a society that tells them what to think and how to act by the progressive left.”

According to Bermant, his AI chatbot will “take the market by storm” and remove any blockades to conservative ideas that have been put in place by big technology companies and the radical left. 

This, he says, is the reason why he spent countless hours instilling conservative principles into GIPPR. 

What are the differences between GIPPR and ChatGPT? 

The differences in the chatbots were observed when questions were put to them concerning how they view former President Donald Trump and current President Joseph Biden. 

While ChatGPT gave rave reviews about Joe Biden due to his liberal views and condemned Donald Trump for his rhetoric and conservative principles, GIPPR stated otherwise. 

Excerpts from responses retrieved from Fox Business pointed out that it stands behind Donald Trump’s policies and the progress he made for citizens of the United States. It added that Trump was able to strengthen the U.S. economy while maintaining his stance on protecting the country’s borders and creating new jobs. 

On the other hand, it loathed Joe Biden for being the figurehead of the progressive left, who are using him to push all their agendas on the American public. Overall, GIPPR believes Biden does not have the interest of U.S. citizens at heart. 

The latest in right wing chatbots 

In March, the New York Times reported that conservatives are laying the foundation for the creation of their own AI chatbots. 

New Zealander David Rozado, a conservative data scientist created an AI chatbot called RightWingGPT after labeling ChatGPT progressive, and liberal. 

OpenAI is the company behind ChatGPT and it has come under intense criticism in the past seven months after it released its own AI chatbot. 

Much of the criticism has come from Tesla mogul and billionaire businessman Elon Musk who helped start the company but created his own AI firm called X.AI in April. 




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Slack to Introduce AI Chatbot to its Workplace Application



Slack to Introduce AI Chatbot to its Workplace Application

Slack is the latest company to integrate a chatbot into its system, making it easy for users to enjoy modern features that simplify how they go about their business activities. 

Workplace messaging application Slack will introduce an in-app AI chatbot that assists users in writing, taking notes on calls, summarizing messages missed by workers in channels, and adjusting/shortening the tone of messages. The news was announced by parent company Salesforce during an an event in New York on May 4. 

The AI chatbot dubbed Slack GPT will be rolled out in 2024, according to Ali Rayl, senior vice president of products at Slack. 

How will Slack GPT work? 

Anyone familiar with Slack can attest to missing certain messages and calls in the various channels. 

With Slack GPT, users can request the chatbot to record what was said in a group call that took place on the applications. Aside from that, if a worker misses messages due to work overflow or a family emergency, they can ask the chatbot to summarize all missed dispatches. 

The latest news comes two months after Salesforce gave way for Anthropic’s Claude and ChatGPT, two of the leading chatbots, to be used on Slack. While Slack GPT will be able to access all the native features associated with the application, the other external chatbots have thus far been limited. 

The latest AI tech by Slack’s Salesforce 

Salesforce also revealed “no-code” features for professionals to be rolled out in the summer. The no-code features include tools for marketers, developers/information technology (IT) workers, and customer service workers which provide AI-generated responses to customers and auto-generate images and campaign copies among others.

Founded in Vancouver, Canada in 2009, Slack has more than 20 million active users. Forecasts suggest it could have 79 million monthly users by 2025. 

Salesforce has brought above-average returns this year 

While Salesforce Inc. is not known among many technology stock investors, it has been one of the best-performing stocks this year. 

While Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Meta Platforms Inc. (META), Arista Networks Inc. (ANET), and Nvidia Corporation (NDVA) are being recommended by analysts, CRM has soared by 43% year-to-date (YTD). 

The stock brought 48% gains to holders in Q1, 2023 and continues to trade around $200, as of 14:00 UTC on May 4. 


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Are Metaverse Offices Making a Comeback?



Are Metaverse Offices Making a Comeback?

The metaverse has been advertised as many things, from an interconnected gaming ecosystem to a virtual office where you can enjoy the benefits of physical co-working without the hassle of a morning commute.

Meta has been one of the biggest proponents of the latter definition. ‘Working virtually provides powerful new ways to make your business smarter, faster and more productive,’ it predicts, touting its Meta Quest headset as the gateway to ‘immersive experiences and comprehensive admin features.’

Somewhere along the way though, the idea of remote working in the metaverse lost ground as metaverse gaming projects hogged the spotlight. Even Meta’s metaverse division Reality Labs has pivoted towards gaming in its search for the killer VR app.

But is the metaverse-as-workplace idea dead in the water? Not quite.

Coty unveils metaverse-based campus

International cosmetics company Coty has recently announced that its eponymous campus will live in the metaverse. 

Envisioned as a gamified training center, Coty Campus will launch this fall with the aim of transforming relationship-building and collaboration among the company’s 11,000 strong global workforce.

“By building Coty Campus, we aim to create an educational opportunity for our global workforce to learn about the transformative technology of 3D spaces,” Jean-Denis Mariani, Coty’s chief digital officer told Glossy.

Interestingly, Mariani suggested that the Campus would not replace other internal channels but rather be accessible through them. Which begs the question, will it be down to staffers to use the employee-focused metaverse of their own accord? And what if they just… don’t want to?

Coty Campus metaverse

What exactly can employees do in Coty Campus, which has been created in conjunction with metaverse platform Spatial? Apparently there will be tools to communicate via text and vocal chats, opportunities for screen and file sharing, gamified training exercises, and a ‘phygital reward system based on item collection, location exploration and quest fulfillment’ – a kind of work-based Pokémon Go, in other words. 

As purveyors of cosmetic, skincare, and fragrance brands, Coty might seem like a strange company to pursue metaverse innovation. After all, its brand revolves around physical beauty and the senses. If there is an industry that appears contraindicated with virtual reality, it’s cosmetics. 

Nevertheless, the company’s Director of Innovation and Beauty Tech, Shanna Weinblatt, has been tasked with identifying and launching innovative, digital-first solutions to enhance the consumer experience, including AR, AI, VR, ultra-personalization, and machine learning. Coty Campus might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Virtual offices making comeback

Coty Campus isn’t the only new metaverse-as-office platform. Startup Katmai just raised $22 million for its new 3D virtual office platform, which it hopes will revolutionize the remote work landscape. 

Essentially, it’s Zuckerberg’s original Meta vision – employees collaborating in a photorealistic 3D environment complete with spatial audio, rather than convening on Zoom or Teams. There are a few important differences, though. First, no VR headset is required; it’s all browser-based. Second, there are no avatars; instead, real video is incorporated. 

“Using actual videos can convey emotion and help people build a rapport in a way that is more natural, more genuine,” explains Katmai CEO Erik Braund.

Skeptics will wonder whether collaborating with employees via floating heads against a VR backdrop is really going to catch on. But $22 million is a considerable sum of money, and investors are clearly backing the idea. News of the Katmai raise follows a recent €16.5 million funding round for London-based venture Gemba, which is scaling up its VR training experience tool. Katmai, for its part, has already worked with several Fortune 500 firms and startups, each keen to explore what the technology has to offer.

Ultimately, no-one knows what the future of work will look like. But whether the idea excites or horrifies you, immersive technologies cannot be easily dismissed.

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