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10th February 2024

University Round-up: Spy cameras, holograms, and a vote of no confidence

Is university changing in the modern age? Zoom may be a thing of the past as hologram lectures are introduced and spy cameras are caught inside university buildings: read our university round-up
University Round-up: Spy cameras, holograms, and a vote of no confidence
Photo: Shelagh Murphy @ Unsplash

Goodbye Zoom, hello holograms?

Loughborough University is teaming up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and hologram company Proto to teach lectures in a new way.

To combat the distance and lack of engagement the university experiences with Zoom classes, Loughborough is bringing international professors in to teach via holograms.

Director of undergraduate business studies, Professor Vikki Locke, stated that hologram-based lessons are far more engaging than Zoom calls.

The holograms are essentially a large Zoom screen, displaying the professor’s full body as opposed to solely their face.

During its trial, Loughborough students have “absolutely loved” the new technology, as it “is a lot more engaging and real to them.”

The new technology can combine AI, social media, lectures, and books to make information and demonstrations more quickly accessible in lectures.

Time difference provides one limitation to the plans. The UK has a five-hour time difference from Massachusetts, meaning that MIT professors could be teaching 9:00 GMT lectures from home at 4:00 EST.

In 2023, the company showed off its technology in Series 4 of The Kardashians, with business mogul Kris Jenner using the hologram system to run meetings from home.

Loughborough’s Professor Gary Burnett praises the new addition to the classroom, stating that “[d]ifferent immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers.”

University of Glasgow targeted by Chinese surveillance

The University of Glasgow has uncovered at least 49 CCTV cameras produced by China’s state-owned company Hikivision – a company that’s been black blacklisted by the US.

Cameras were found inside the James McCune Smith Learning Hub, which opened in 2021.

Hikvision has faced allegations of involvement in the mass surveillance used against Uyghurs in China. These cameras are used to track citizens and are used as a tool to aid China’s human rights violations against Uyghurs.

The UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee reported in 2021 that Hikivision’s cameras have been used in Chinese internment camps, and act as a threat to national security.

Hikivision’s cameras use facial recognition technology to track human behaviour, racially profile and assist state intelligence, according to Dr David Tobin, lecturer at the University of Sheffield.

Glasgow University responded to the findings by stating they were “not aware” of the human rights violations associated with Hikvision.

Following their discovery, “the University has stopped installing Hikvision cameras and has committed to only use NDAA compliant brands in the future.”

Oxford Union votes “No Confidence” in the UN

In late January, the Oxford Union voted that they have “No Confidence in the United Nations.”

The House ruled 148:90, criticising the United Nation’s stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Ben Murphy opened the discussion by stating that the UN has become a “utopian fantasy that cannot be achieved,” as nations’ competing interests no longer make unity possible.

Sir Geoffery Nice, a chair of the China and Uyghur Tribunals, stated that the UN’s main aim is to prevent war and resolve international disputes, a “purpose which he believes has been abandoned.”

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