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How AI Changes Learning (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our in-depth exploration of how AI changes learning. In the previous installment, we talked to CEO Dan White and CTO Alex Stone about the transformative impact of AI on game design.

In case you missed part one, you can catch up here. In this follow-up interview, we continue our discussion with Alex Stone, shedding light on how AI technology could change formal learning environments and the structure of educational games themselves! 

via Giphy

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What subjects and skills do you believe formal education will emphasize more as AI continues to evolve and automate certain tasks? 

Alex Stone: At least with large language models, they’ve essentially summarized all human knowledge. So it still will be necessary to teach facts, but at the same time, it will be completely irrelevant for people entering the workforce to know any facts. That’s the raw truth of the matter. 

It’s already become less and less important every day to have memorized facts since most people have access to the Internet, but with AI assistance and AI systems being brought into the tools we work in, I can’t imagine many people will be directly creating spreadsheets, presentations, or any of the other artifacts that the modern knowledge workers are expected to build. They’ll no longer even have to enter the information directly into those things.

Memorizing facts will be irrelevant. Instead, education is going to put even more emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. All of those soft skills and leadership skills that are currently and ostensibly taught as a byproduct of learning facts in the classrooms, curriculums will instead shift to be built around those things. Maybe there’ll be some facts being taught, but that’s not going to be the primary focus anymore.

I think that we’ll also see a decline in STEAM. Or at least the emphasis on STEM and computer science to a certain degree. I say this as a programmer and as a computer scientist, but the type of computer science that’s taught at a K-12 level or an entry level, a lot of those things are going to be automated. So I see the education of the future being focused mainly on how to work with other people, be a part of a team, and other things like that. A lot of the skills that we’re used to learning in school or learning in formal education environments will become less emphasized. 

That’s my prediction, but it’s going to take a while to see what happens. These things move super slow and they are already out of pace with technology so that gap is going to grow.  I also don’t know what that’s going to potentially lead to at some untenable future point.

How might that impact how we create games at Filament in terms of learning objectives and content? 

AS: Not much ideally –  we’ll just get to make more games about the skills that our mission is around, which are the 21st-century skills. I do think that eventually, AI will impact our process and practices because understanding how to create artifacts, how to create media, and how to build things still requires an understanding of the flow of the process and practices involved, and that’s really where AI will fill in those gaps, but it will be much much longer before AI is able to take over the practice of what professionals do. 

Firstly, just from a safety standpoint, having an expert involved in the review of what AI agents are doing is important, at least for now, maybe forever. Second, in terms of where the technology is at and where it’s headed right now, it’s just going to be a while before it’s good at multifunction, cross-domain, multi-step processes. Even though obviously everyone’s dipping their toes into that now, it’s going to be a while before that becomes something that’s really usable. AI is going to be, for the most part, pretty domain-specific tools for a while that need someone who can supervise them, who has a view of all the steps of these larger processes, and who works with different teams and different disciplines to get something done. 

How do you anticipate AI shaping the future of educational games? What are your hopes and expectations for the integration of AI in creating deep and meaningful learning experiences?

AS: I would love to get to the point where we don’t have to make a new learning game every time we need to teach something different. I hope there’s an opportunity at some point to make a meta-learning game environment where we’re designing at a higher level, able to build opportunities for players to face challenges, have safe places to fail, use critical thinking and other skills to solve problems, but we’re not having to design the content or writing the dialogue or working with a math subject matter expert to provide math specific skill training. Ideally, we’ll program the AI to do that stuff. Then the games that we make will no longer be static products but living products that change over time.

Adaptivity has been around forever. Obviously, it will continue to be a thing where the content of a game changes and is modified to meet players where they are at the right level of difficulty. That’s all great, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about learning paths themselves being automated. The curriculum being automated. So we’d be designing the context and the space that the curriculum is presented, in a way that is authentic and intrinsically motivating. 

I also anticipate that there’s going to be a lot more multi-user environments. We’ll move away from single-player games because multiplayer environments will be the main places where people are going to learn those human-to-human interaction skills that are going to become even more important in the future, as AI takes care of everything else. 

Is there anything else on your mind when it comes to AI and learning games that we haven’t covered yet?

AS: I recommend checking out this page on the Unity website. I’m paying close attention to what Unity is doing right now because everything that they have linked on this page is stuff that we might potentially use to make the learning games of the future. 

The future of education, it seems, will be characterized by AI-driven, dynamic learning environments that empower students and educators alike! If you’re passionate about transforming education through the power of technology, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Together, we can create cutting-edge educational experiences that improve people’s lives.

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