Time for a different story

Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

I am presenting at Jisc’s Digifest 23 on the intelligent campus. I am having a fireside chat with City, University of London’s very own Dom Pates.

Fireside chat: Building the future intelligent campus

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus?

The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. We’ll look at what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing:

  • Student experience
  • Achieving net zero
  • Improving efficiency
  • Space utilisation

James and Dom will also ask you to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

On that note it was interesting to see Dom on the Twitter, using ChatGPT to write a story about the Intelligent Campus.

Write a short story in the style of speculative fiction about a university student who spends a day on a smart or intelligent campus some time in the future. Ensure that the campus is designed to address issues around sustainability and data privacy, yet is responsive to the student in a personalised (but not creepy) way. Ensure that the student is studying a course for a future-focused job, and that the campus is actually a desirable and ethically-designed environment. Make the short story go through different stages of the day, and comes to approximately 1,500 words in total. Include an ethical quandary that the central character faces during the course of their day.

Dom then posted the first paragraph.

Dom went on to add further narrative.

Here is the full story (in text).

Marcel was both excited and apprehensive as he stepped onto the smart campus of his university. He was studying for a future-focused job in sustainable architecture, and he had heard many rumours about this intelligent campus that was designed to address the most pressing issues of the day. Marcel looked around and was impressed by what he saw: a vast, green space surrounded by glass buildings that glinted in the sun. He could see solar panels and wind turbines, all designed to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint. He walked towards his first lecture hall, and as he did, he heard a voice speaking to him.

What’s happening

“Good morning, Marcel. I hope you slept well. Your first lecture is in the building to your right, and it starts in fifteen minutes. Would you like me to guide you there?”

Marcel looked around, but he couldn’t see anyone talking to him. He realised that the voice was coming from the earpiece he was wearing.

“Yes, please guide me there,” Marcel replied.

“Of course, Marcel. Please follow the green line on the ground, and it will lead you to the lecture hall. You will be there in ten minutes.”
Marcel followed the green line, and he couldn’t help but marvel at the smart technology that was everywhere on this campus. The line led him through gardens and courtyards, and he saw many other students walking along similar lines, all following directions from their earpieces.

As Marcel arrived at the lecture hall, he noticed that there were no doors. Instead, the entrance was an open archway, and as he stepped through, he was welcomed by a soft voice.

“Welcome, Marcel. Please take a seat wherever you like.”

Marcel looked around and saw that there were no chairs. Instead, there were soft, cushioned pods that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Marcel chose one and sat down, and he was surprised by how comfortable it was. As he did, a screen appeared in front of him, showing him the schedule for the day.

His lecturer walked in, and he was impressed by how engaged the class was. The screens in front of each student allowed the lecturer to show interactive diagrams and videos, and Marcel could ask questions by speaking into his earpiece. The lecture was engaging and interactive, and before he knew it, it was over.

As Marcel stepped out of the lecture hall, he heard the same voice in his earpiece.

“Marcel, it’s time for your workshop on sustainable design. It’s in the building to your left. Please follow the blue line on the ground.”
Marcel followed the blue line, and he couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy. He had read about smart campuses that used data to track the movements of their students, and he wondered if he was being watched. As he approached the building, he saw a sign that read, “Data Privacy is Our Priority.” He relaxed a little and stepped inside.
The workshop was fascinating, and Marcel was able to experiment with virtual reality tools that allowed him to design sustainable buildings in a three-dimensional space. As he worked, the system recognised his movements and preferences, and it adapted to his design choices. Marcel felt empowered and inspired by the technology, and he couldn’t wait to use it in his future career.

As the day wore on, Marcel attended a variety of classes and workshops, each designed to challenge and inspire him. The smart campus was constantly adapting to his preferences and needs, and he felt like he was learning more in a day than he had in a week at his old university.

As he left the last class of the day, he felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

However, as he walked back towards his dormitory, he noticed that the green line he had been following all day was now leading him towards a part of the campus he had never been to before. Marcel hesitated for a moment, but his curiosity got the better of him, and he followed the line.

As he walked, he noticed that the campus was quiet, and there were no other students around. He heard the soft voice in his earpiece again.

“Marcel, we have one more thing to show you. Please continue following the green line.

Marcel’s heart started to beat faster, and he wondered what the voice was leading him towards. As he rounded a corner, he saw a small group of people standing in front of a glass building. They were all wearing lab coats, and they were looking at him expectantly.
“Welcome, Marcel,” said a man with grey hair and a friendly smile. “We have been watching you all day, and we have a proposition for you. We are working on a top-secret project that we think you would be perfect for. It involves designing a sustainable city that will be built on the site of an old factory. We think your skills and experience would make you an ideal candidate to lead this project. What do you say?”

Marcel was taken aback. He had never expected anything like this to happen, and he wondered how they had been watching him all day. He felt a moment of hesitation, wondering if this was an ethical quandary he was facing.

But then he looked around him and realised that this campus was not just designed for sustainability and data privacy, but it was also designed to empower students to create a better future. He looked back at the man in the lab coat and nodded.

“I’m in,” he said, and the man smiled.

“Excellent. We’ll start tomorrow.”

The next day, Marcel woke up early, eager to start his new project. He made his way to the glass building, where he was greeted by the man from the previous day.

“Good morning, Marcel,” the man said. “I’m glad to see you’re excited. We have a few more people joining us today, including the project manager.”

Marcel followed the man inside, and was surprised to see a group of people sitting around a table. They were all different ages, genders, and ethnicities, and they all looked like they were full of ideas.

“Marcel, this is the project manager, Rachel,” the man said, gesturing towards a tall woman with dark hair and sharp eyes. “And these are the other members of the team.

We have engineers, architects, and designers from all over the world. We believe that diversity is key to creating a sustainable future.”

Marcel nodded, feeling a sense of pride at being part of such a forward-thinking team.

As they got to work, he noticed that Rachel had a way of leading the team that was both authoritative and inclusive. She listened to everyone’s ideas and made sure that everyone had a chance to speak. Marcel admired her leadership style and felt inspired to be a part of such a team.

As the day went on, Marcel found that the work was challenging but rewarding. He was able to use all of the skills he had learned in his degree, and he felt like he was making a difference. The team worked together seamlessly, bouncing ideas off each other and collaborating in a way that felt natural.

As the day drew to a close, Marcel realised that he had found his calling. He had always known that he wanted to do something that would make a difference, but he had never known how to do it. Now, he felt like he was on the right path, and he was excited to see where it would lead.

As he walked out of the building, he felt a sense of pride in himself and in the campus that had brought him there. He realised that the smart and intelligent campus was not just a place to learn, but it was also a place to grow and to find oneself.

Marcel felt like he had found a community of like-minded people who shared his values, and he felt grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. He walked out into the sunlight, feeling inspired and excited for the future.

Dom concluded with these thoughts.

Clearly some of this story feels a little cliched and from a literary point of view, there are undoubtedly many points from which it could be criticised. However, even though the bot wouldn’t be winning a Nobel Prize for Literature, I do think that it makes an interesting stab at a ‘first draft’ of an idea. If I wanted to write a short story about an #IntelligentCampus, I have some material to work with and try to improve.

What are your thoughts on this story created by ChatGPT?

How does it compare to the human written story I wrote back in 2017.

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