Artificial Intelligence

AI is shaping the metaverse - but how? Industry experts explain

"When integrated with the metaverse, generative AI has the power to transform our most imaginative ideas not just into text or images, but into three-dimensional content and experiences," Fougere concluded.

"When integrated with the metaverse, generative AI has the power to transform our most imaginative ideas not just into text or images, but into three-dimensional content and experiences," Fougere concluded. Image: Unsplash/Deepmind

Kelly Ommundsen
Chief of Staff; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
Jaci Eisenberg
Head of Content Curation, Global Collaboration Village, World Economic Forum
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  • The World Economic Forum, in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, recently hosted a learning session for the partners of the Forum’s own metaverse, the Global Collaboration Village.
  • The partner organizations shared how they are deploying AI to contribute to their conceptualization of the metaverse.
  • Partners expressed a desire to explore the integration of generative AI to accelerate metaverse development.

At a recent Global Collaboration Village partner event, notable leaders in diverse fields shared their perspectives on how the metaverse is transforming their industries, how AI is supporting their goals in the metaverse, and the promise of generative AI to create opportunities and solve problems in this space and to accelerate the development of the metaverse.

Transforming art

Refik Anadol is an internationally renowned media artist, director, and pioneer whose work resides at the crossroads of art, science and technology. Refik Anadol Studios, which comprises of designers, architects, data scientists, and researchers, uses data and machine learning to create immersive audio/visual performances.

"As an artist, I've been using AI and data painting for almost a decade. When I think about the metaverse, I see it as a global community that inspires and brings people together. The uniqueness of these virtual technologies is that they create experiences that transcend geographical constraints and the limits of the physical world," said Anadol.

Refik Anadol also spoke on the ability of AI and the metaverse to immerse people into a whole new world - as yet unexplored - through data and technology.

"Once we're in the metaverse, it's not just about wearing gear, but connecting ourselves on a deeper level through biometric data from our heartbeats, brain activity, and senses like touch, sight and sound," said Anadol.

He noted the progress that has been made in bringing ideas alive only in human imagination to life thanks to AI: "Artworks can be impactful and immersive spaces where people make real connections and where humanity is central to it. AI can help create things that only exist in our imaginations! AI could help artists create new metaverse spaces that exist in our dreams."

Next year, at the World Economic Forum's Davos 2024, Refik Anadol and his team aim to share more about their research, techniques, and algorithms on how a pro-humanity AI can be developed to further the metaverse.

Meetings, anywhere

Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) has historically played a key role in the evolution of the technological age. Today, HPE creates deep learning and AI solutions that are built around the idea that AI should be used by organizations anywhere, in any way, and at every scale. This philosophy has seen the HPE team cross-test various AI solutions within the metaverse.

At HPE, a diverse range of applications has been explored, utilizing both external and in-house solutions, according to Jeff Fougere, Innovation Strategist at HPE. “A prime example is our innovative virtual company museum, showcasing a digital twin of our legendary HP garage.” But the technology's potential extends beyond replicating conventional in-person experiences. "By leveraging complete control over 3D environments, we have engaged team members with TED Talk-style presentations set on a simulated moon base and enhanced product demonstrations with captivating 3D animations," Fougere continued.

Delving further, Fougere disclosed that HPE's research teams are investigating the possibilities offered by Generative AI technology. This innovative approach enables the instantaneous creation of 3D models, images, and environments using intuitive voice commands. "When integrated with the metaverse, generative AI has the power to transform our most imaginative ideas not just into text or images, but into three-dimensional content and experiences," Fougere concluded.

Supporting research and innovation

Laurence Bertoux, Leader of Platform Initiative at Tecnológico de Monterrey, is embarking on an exciting journey of research and discovery to utilise generative AI alongside and within the metaverse as a research platform. The vibrant Innovation Hub at one of Latin America's leading tech-research institutes is spearheading a program to create digital twins of innovation systems within the metaverse.

The institute's digital twins technology will allow users in the metaverse to:

  • Connect: Users can communicate with researchers and innovators in real-time within the metaverse
  • Create: Users from around the world can collaborate within the platform to create solutions that benefit humanity
  • Experiment: Digital labs will exist in the metaverse for product validation, brainstorming and innovative project acceleration
  • Experience: Experiences will be simulated in the metaverse through virtual and augmented reality
  • Access: Users will have access to real-time data generated by fellow-users of the metaverse community

Facilitating collaboration and knowledge exchange

Companies like EMD Digital, meanwhile, are applying advanced analytics methods to design, optimize and scale digital solutions that benefit the semiconductor industry. The remarkable progress of this company is set against the backdrop of the 350+ years of achievements in science and technology of its parent company, Merck KGaA.

"From a digital business perspective, we are constantly exploring how we can bring the same sense of quality and authenticity that our business has been known for (for hundreds of years in the physical world) to the digital realm," said James Kugler, CEO of EMD Digital.

“A key part of the success of our business has always been collaboration and, with the risk of the digital world becoming a siloed or isolated one, we see collaborative solutions such as the metaverse as a welcome addition to foster more collaboration between innovators,” he added.

Kugler noted though that collaboration in the fast-changing world of AI and the metaverse relies a lot on accountability and authenticity: "In our ecosystem joint ventures in healthcare and the semiconductor industry, we always work hard to ensure trust-based collaboration. In this novel time of evolution and uncertainty for AI and the metaverse, we believe that we can only make the current physical world digital if our partners have the intention to do it in a sincere way."

He added that this accountability is also creating plentiful opportunities for knowledge exchange: "We can use the metaverse to showcase to new partners and previously difficult-to-reach audiences the process of how everyday items like semiconductor chips are made. This is truly a first for the tech-world."

The promise of generative AI to scale up the metaverse

Generative AI, which involves using artificial intelligence to create content autonomously, such as images, music, and text, is already becoming an ever-more prominent part of everyday business activities and our daily lives. When combined with metaverse technologies (virtual spaces where people can interact, collaborate, and experience virtual reality) a whole new arena of possibilities for immersive and interactive experiences arise.

The integration of generative AI and the metaverse can create dynamic virtual environments, where AI-generated content can adapt and respond to users' actions, creating personalized and engaging experiences. It can also enable new forms of art, entertainment, and communication, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the virtual realm.

The partner organizations expressed great hope for generative AI to rapidly scale the development of the metaverse, allowing for unique content to be generated easily, and not necessarily by expert developers only.

“We are only at the beginning of our AI journey,” said Prof Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “AI will have a fundamentally transformative impact on almost everything we do, and the applications of AI in the Global Collaboration Village will help us to better understand challenges, facilitate deeper collaboration, and generate greater impact for the global community.”

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