Creating realistic simulations with AI personas

Creating realistic simulations with AI personas

A combination of AI and gamification can help facilitate engagement in the MBA class. Dr. Santiago Velasquez, Associate Program Manager of RMIT Vietnam’s MBA, talked about how RMIT has used AI to create detailed, fictional, and interactive personas that students can use to roleplay in design thinking exercises.

Can a persona interact with students? With AI, the answer is yes.

In RMIT’s Design Thinking course, students are tasked with creating personas, most commonly used in marketing and design. Personas are detailed representations of a target group, outlining their needs, pain points, gains, and motivations. The aim is to better understand and engage with the target audience. However, accurately crafting these personas can pose a challenge, especially when students are not familiar with the specific demographic they are trying to represent.

The challenge of role-playing

Due to ethical and legal considerations, students are often required to role-play rather than interview real individuals. However, limited knowledge can result in portrayals that are inaccurate and based on subjective stereotypes or media representations. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the learning experience can be compromised when students do not fully commit to the role-playing exercise. These factors present significant challenges to the learning process. 

The solution: interactive AI personas

Dr. Santiago Velasquez, Associate Program Manager for RMIT Vietnam’s MBA program, has long been in search of an alternative approach to enhance the persona experience. Recognising the potential of Chat GPT to address the challenges associated with role-playing, he began experimenting with using it to create personas.

While AI may not always generate perfectly accurate information, it is capable of creating plausible content. Chat GPT utilises its extensive information base to construct fictitious characters that meet specific criteria, resulting in personas that are more realistic and representative. This approach ensures that the AI-generated personas closely reflect the characteristics and behaviours of the target group.

six ai generated portrait photos of people Personas profile images generated by Chat GPT

Furthermore, AI personas offer the advantage of being available around the clock, allowing students to interact with them at any time. These virtual characters can provide credible responses to a wide range of questions, including inquiries about recent events, regulations, and policies. This level of accessibility and responsiveness is not feasible in traditional classroom settings, where role-playing is confined to class hours and requires the participation of at least two individuals. With AI personas, students can engage in immersive learning experiences outside of the classroom, overcoming the constraints of time and resource availability.

The impact on student engagement

When interactive AI personas were introduced, students were both excited and impressed by this innovative approach. Their heightened empathy for the customer became evident as they interacted with the AI-generated persona. Upon viewing the persona images, students provided detailed feedback and debated on how the persona should look - cooler or more “rough around the edges,” determined or thoughtful, tired or energetic. Such comments demonstrate the students' interest in defining deeper emotions and not mere superficial characteristics based on gender or race. 


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