National Technology Day: AI, XR can unlock edtech innovation, says BrightChamps' Ravi Bhushan
“I believe that the big tech trend of 2023 is going to be that of using AI to fully harness the potential of other technologies - a sort of a powerful marriage of sorts - among technologies,” says Ravi Bhushan, founder and CEO, BrightChamps.
One of the best litmus tests for any emerging technology is how beneficial it can be for humanity. And right now, with the unprecedented growth of artificial intelligence, we are witnessing industry leaders, technologists, and governments asking the same question. However, there are many who believe that AI can be extremely beneficial, provided it is used responsibly. Among them is Ravi Bhushan, founder, and CEO of BrightChamps, an edtech company that focuses on the use of technology for skill development across verticals like robotics, coding, financial education, and communication. We, at HT Tech, had an exclusive conversation with Bhushan on the occasion of National Technology Day.
On Tech Growth and Biggest Trends
I think we're in an era of technological innovation that is so rapid, we can no longer speak about it in terms of years — growth and change has to be tracked in months now. ChatGPT became part of our lexicon in November last year, and since then, all we've been hearing about is about large language models, predictive AI, generative AI, the application of AI in practically every industry under the sun, and what the implications of widespread use of such powerful technology — one we're still only uncovering the potential of — will be. It's an exciting time for those who understand technology or are involved in building it or ensuring its adoption, but understandably, it can also be overwhelming for people on the outside.
Because the writing is on the wall — technology is making our physical and digital worlds collide in an unprecedented manner and an unprecedented pace and scale. Industrial, social, and enterprise reinvention that used to take years due to the pace of mass adoption of new tech is now achieved in months. We used to think cloud and metaverse were game-changers, allowing people to move between their physical and digital worlds seamlessly, and then came along AI that looks like it might fuse the two realities entirely.
I believe that the big tech trend of 2023 is going to the that of using AI to fully harness the potential of other technologies - a powerful marriage of sorts - among technologies.
How It Will Manifest
In edtech, we know that XR or extended reality has been a hot-button topic within tech innovation in learning for some time now because of how immersive it can make learning by creating almost life-life experiences for students without the cost of setting up expensive labs, physical trips, or even dedicated physical spaces, which are, by default, limited access. I believe that with generative and predictive AI in the mix, not only will kids be able to access XR's powerful simulations, they will also have educational experiences that adapt themselves to a student's learning needs, abilities, interest, and proficiencies, ultimately making education more effective and efficient.
Another big change I see is that education and learning will fundamentally change forever in the coming months. We've all been too condition to think of education as a standardised process. With so much technology and innovation dedicated to immersive and adaptive learning, now, with AI being a part of the mix, I think the understanding that no two students have to undergo the same learning trajectory will finally take root, thanks for near-instant adaptation to the student's needs, AI-powered microlearning, AI-enabled guides for homework, powerful AI-bots as anytime-anywhere teachers, AI-enabled breaking of the language barrier, a giant step forward when it comes to the question of accessibility and development of world-class learning materials and experiences across languages.
Bottlenecks and Interventions
Access to internet/devices — This massive burst of tech innovation has taken up to the doorstep of a world none of us could have imagined, but there are large parts of the world that still does not have uninterrupted access to devices and internet to be able to use technology in a way that sustainably improves their human, lived experience. The paradox of technology is that while it is making access to so many things and experiences easier and cheaper for those who were forced to be on the outside, looking in, the lack of technology, in itself, is also widening the experience, productivity, and value-creation chasm between those who have baselines access and those who don't. For eg: Within edtech, the playing field is being levelled for students by AI-enabled personal tutors at scale — which was unimaginable even 2-3 years ago because only the richest students could think of private learning — but how are kids who don't even have a screen to compete with those who have undergone a lifetime of private tutoring thanks to tech? The only way this particular bottleneck can be solved is through concerted efforts by the government to seek private partnerships to increase the coverage of device, internet, and innovation access at price points that can be sustained across all sides of the aisle with subsidies and economies of scale.
Another bottleneck is fear and paranoia — I find this propensity to ‘ban' emerging tech as a knee-jerk solution to the difficult questions being posed by powerful emerging tech quite shortsighted. The genie is out of the bottle and the tech is not going away anywhere, nor are the questions about ethics in AI, human capital and future of work implications, super-intelligences going to magically disappear. So what needs to happen is honest, unafraid exploration and collaborative engagement of the best minds in the world to come up with blueprints and roadmaps for adoption that take into account the needs of the world we currently inhabit.
Technology, AI, Mankind
Technology is not good or bad — it's how we use it. You can use a robotic arm to do a surgery, or use it to stab someone to death. You can use facial recognition to prevent crime or to stalk someone. You can use immersive learning and XR to broaden the horizons of a student's mind by helping them experience multiple different perspectives and paradigms or to brainwash them with delivery of propaganda. You can use AI to enhance the human experience by freeing up time from menial tasks or you can use it to disconnect people from their humanity and social relationships altogether. It is not technology that is a problem, it is how people use it. The solution is not to stop the enhancement of technology, but better solutioning. Imagine that if the first time someone used a knife to injure someone, we decided that blades were too dangerous to be allowed to exist. Would we have precision surgery tools?
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