We recently spoke a bit about how AI programs such as ChatGPT and DALLE-2 are affecting the creative industry, along with some possible future scenarios. With the use of such AI programs on the rise, we must also ask ourselves how they will affect students, teachers, and academia as a whole. We’ve got a lot to explore here, so let us not waste time on frivolity—it’s time to begin.
We would all like to believe that each new technological advance is made with the best intentions in mind. At best, we can operate on this assumption; however, one unfortunate fact remains—there will always be those who wish to abuse technology for personal gain. Late last year ChatGPT brought AI into the mainstream, and quickly gained widespread attention for its ability to interact with humans on an unprecedented level of complexity. Alas, the use of AI is a double-edged sword, and within one month of its launch, people were already using ChatGPT in nefarious and diabolical ways.
One such example comes from Furman University in South Carolina, where a student used ChatGPT to write an essay for their philosophy class. In this case, the professor’s suspicions about this particular student’s essay caused him to investigate further, eventually concluding that the student had used ChatGPT to cheat. This incident, as well as the concern that cheating through the use of ChatGPT will become more widespread has caused several public school districts in the U.S. to ban the use of ChatGPT in their classrooms and facilities.
As with all things, the truth and goodness will always prevail. Princeton University student Edward Tian, a computer science major, created a tool that is capable of detecting ChatGPT-written essays with a high level of accuracy, and get this—he did it all on winter break. Tian isn’t the only one who is working to regulate the use of AI programs in academia, as OpenAI has also developed its own tool that can help teachers determine whether a student has used its ChatGPT program to cheat on an assignment.
In order for ChatGPT to generate any kind of written material, it needs to be fed a prompt that contains enough information for it to work off of. The question that we need to answer is whether the prompt that is provided to the AI program demonstrates the depth of knowledge that is required to be awarded a passing grade in any particular subject. Of course, the simple solution to all of this is to ban ChatGPT from academic institutions all together, because let’s be honest and call this what it is: cheating.
When someone cheats, it’s the same as lying. If you lie about your credentials on a job application and your lack of knowledge or ability becomes known to your boss, you lose your job. The same should apply to students. We can’t all be great at everything, and we all have our own unique set of skills and abilities that we should seek to develop so that we can make a career out of them—an honest career. It takes effort to succeed, and dishonest shortcuts will only come back to haunt you in the future. Further, developing your knowledge on any given subject and then applying it successfully is exciting! Hard work builds character and it feels good to get that epic win once in a while, especially when you know you put the time and effort in.
When we’re honest with ourselves and with our work, that undeniable air of authenticity will always be present. Sure, maybe ChatGPT can churn out a flawlessly-written research paper in less than half the time, but it will always lack the human touch. When we strive for perfection we can get close, but there is no way to attain absolute perfection in anything; there will always be room for improvement. That’s the reason why anyone does anything at all—it’s the continued pursuit of success.
With all that said, let’s talk about the temptation to cheat. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can be tempted to take shortcuts or cheat to win. Being tempted toward such things does not make someone a bad person, it just makes them human. It is when we ignore that temptation and push ourselves to succeed despite it that we become stronger. Think of Luke Skywalker and how he learned to harness the power of The Force. Would the infinitely wise and accomplished Yoda allow him to take shortcuts? No way! Be your own Yoda—strive to stay on the truthful, honest path. It may take time, but it will always pay off.
Now that we’ve got all that cheating business out of the way, there’s still a lot more to unpack. What impact will AI programs have on the professors of the world? How will it change education, and will it be for the better? Next time, we’re going to tackle these questions and beyond that, we’ve got a bunch more to talk about when it comes to AI, so keep your browser locked in here.
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