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To Chat or Not to Chat?
February 13, 2023
If you haven’t already heard of (or used) ChatGPT, it’s probably just a matter of time. ChatGPT is an AI or artificial intelligence created by OpenAI in late 2022 which many feel may revolutionize the world. Whether that change is for good or bad, however, is yet to be determined, especially in the field of education as it will enable millions of students to potentially cheat on schoolwork.
ChatGPT is what is known as a large language model and a part of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family. A large language model (LLM) in AI analyzes bodies of text and tries to understand what is being said or asked, then tries to predict the next word in the sentence or question. A common example of an LLM would be Siri or an Alexa which uses LLM’s to process what you ask or say to provide an answer. Traditionally, AI has limitations, but ChatGPT is unique in that it was designed to learn from its mistakes the same way humans would, as well as follow an instruction and provide a detailed and valuable response.
The rise of ChatGPT has a variety of people very excited about how this new technology could benefit numerous industries, including education. Wharton Professor Christian Terwiesch fed ChatGPT a question from his exam and found that ChatGPT aced it. “Not only is the answer correct, but it is also superbly explained,” he said. Others, like FCHS Instructional Tech Kristen Davis, have found ChatGPT helpful for creating administrative reports and forms quickly and easily.
ChatGPT can respond to a user’s question by searching large databases and can write an essay or brief within minutes, or give name to a popular song or a quote from Shakespeare in an instant. “ChatGPT is, quite simply, the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public,” said New York Times writer Kevin Roose.
However, some educators find ChatGPT particularly worrisome as it can be used to easily cheat and plagiarize. For example, a student could give the program the instructions for writing a research paper and it would turn out a finished essay, although there would be no guarantee that it would give you a good grade. It does have its limitations. For example, while the program could easily and quickly spit out the entire script of Romeo and Juliet in a document, it might have trouble writing a really strong persuasive essay about the play. Also, teachers tend to get a feel for students’ writing abilities and if they suddenly see a student out of nowhere turning in an essay with perfect grammar and punctuation, they may realize something is up.
As a result, both the New York and Seattle public school systems have already banned the use of it on their networks. Systems like these argue that ChatGPt and similar AI will have a negative impact on students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills because students can get the AI to do a lot of work for them without ever understanding how to complete such an assignment on their own.
Still, some educators have decided to embrace this new technology. “As a business teacher, I believe that AI-powered tools like ChatGPT can be valuable in helping students learn and engage with material in innovative ways,” said FCHS Business teacher Willane Charles. “I have explained to my students how ChatGPT operates and the ethics of using it. AI software is inevitable and students will soon become familiar with it, so it is important for teachers to educate them about it. I am looking forward to a time when AI-generated work can be watermarked so that it can be easily identified,” she added.
One of the biggest fears some have is what AI programs like ChatGPT could mean for the job market moving forward. “ChatGPT is going to be a game changer for the future,” said FCHS Science teacher Joel Gray. “A whole lot of business people are going to lose their jobs to ChatBot GPT…What then? Universal Basic Income / AI – government-controlled socialism? Social credit scores? Glad I’m gonna miss it. Just hope they replace all the politicians with AI Robots first,” he said.