Professor Ruby Thelot is Bringing AI in the Metaverse to the Forefront of the Future

SMU Meadows professor Ruby Thelot leads the AI in the Metaverse course to help students gain both a theoretical and practical understanding of this emerging digital medium.


As the digital age continues to evolve and integrate itself into our daily lives more than ever, the future of AI and the Metaverse is left in the hands of forward-thinking innovators and deeply inspired creative types who seek a better understanding of these creative technology themes. SMU Meadows professor Ruby Thelot is certainly one who fits the mold of a talented individual leveraging his knowledge of the digital world.

Thelot is a designer, artist and cyberethnographer who is passionate about studying the internet and how it can be designed for the future. “A big part of the work I do involves building comprehensive theory and traditional infrastructure of technologies, doing and spending a lot of time in them, and exploring the new primitives of the internet of the future.” Along with his role as a product manager, Thelot also teaches AI in the Metaverse, a required course in the SMU Meadows online Master of Arts in Creative Technology program.

Inspiration and Research Journeys

Thelot’s first inspirations in the digital space started with an exploration of online memes and gaming. “Playing video games was my first intro to the metaverse,” says Thelot. “Embodying a different character, experiencing another realm that could be accessed. Playing games like World of Warcraft and Second Life where you interact with others via avatars; these experiences have made what I think are interesting products as well as providing new theories for understanding the internet.”

This led him to think about what we see online through a more academic perspective– thereafter, conducting more research on IoT and artificial intelligence while publishing scholarly essays. Thelot completed his thesis on AI in the Metaverse at the Parsons School of Design in New York where he sought to explore building meta spaces and how the metaverse played a role. Thelot has been invited all over the world to speak about these concepts and ingratiated himself in a niche group of creative technology innovators and thinkers. It was at this point in his career that he connected with Ira Greenberg, a fellow artist and director of the M.A. in Creative Technology graduate program.

Observations regarding artificial intelligence in the metaverse are further explored in Thelot’s research into AI chat bots. Through platforms that allow people to build long-lasting romantic relationships with bots – Thelot discovered several unexpected findings regarding the interactions between humans and AI chat bots.

“What’s been interesting is our willingness to attribute human characteristics to systems who we know to be mechanical or digital. In spite of the relative transparency of AI systems, these new technologies still push us to reconsider the essence of humanity.”  

Thelot’s insights into AI in the Metaverse and humanity’s interactions with AI and digital platforms serve as an example of how AI is adapting to the day-to-day lives of people and speaks to the long-term impacts it may have in the future.

The Future of AI in the Metaverse

Thelot believes hardware and physical devices will play a greater role in how humanity’s integration with digital technology grows.

“I believe the future of AI and the Metaverse will be directed by models and hardware. New types of computers and devices open a lot of possibilities in terms of interactions and interfaces. Hardware is an interesting point of convergence, and will it endure in a world where I can have all kinds of information sent to me just by conversing with a bot?”

Continuing with his belief in the importance of acknowledging hardware evolution, Thelot also noted the impact Hollywood’s depictions of AI and technology has had and could continue to have on what we create and how we understand the role of these technologies.

“I think it’s important to look at how these different platforms and devices are depicted in films and TV shows and how they influence what we build in real life.” says Thelot. “How will AI and tech depictions in movies like The Terminator, for example, impact the way we see robotics and influence designers in ways like never before to make new devices? It remains to be seen, technology is always adapting and evolving, but the hardware and physical devices we use will open countless of other possibilities for utilizing software.”

Into the Classroom

Thelot is excited to take students on an incredible journey through AI’s possibilities in the Metaverse and help them develop skills they can use toward a career in creative tech.

Thelot says, “I’d like to structure the AI in the Metaverse course in three ‘phases’ for students to get the most value.”

  • Theory – a way of speaking about something clearly and accurately without showing it
  • Pitching – understanding why things matter and combining theory and visual observations in a presentable manner
  • Creation – having the skills and knowledge to be able to make something functional

 “I don’t want to stay in pure theory forever,” says Thelot. “The sooner we can get into the tools and models, the better the comprehension and the more value students will derive from the course.”

“Technology is going to be ubiquitous, and it’s really gaining in popularity. Any person who wants to work in tech or work with software, this course provides a good way to sharpen those skills. What does Facebook look like in the Metaverse? AI bots? Even if you’re not working in AI or the Metaverse after graduation, this shows a breadth of knowledge of what is current and future in creative technologies.”

The SMU Meadows School of the Arts M.A. in Creative Technology graduate program is designed to help prepare both creative and technical-oriented individuals to combine skill sets across interactive mediums, design, programming, blockchain and generative AI applications. To learn more about SMU’s M.A. in Creative Technology program, visit our program page.