By Kaitlyn Murphy
ChatGPT has officially entered the public arena, with all eyes on the AI function.
A chatbot that provides detailed, developed, and human-sounding answers, ChatGPT draws from an array of sources trained to memorize and reiterate, according to Forbes. People have used the function to write poems, translate languages, and answer complex questions across disciplines. While this marks an astounding development in artificial intelligence, there have been concerns surrounding how ChatGPT will be used, specifically in academic settings. The introduction of ChatGPT provides a glimpse into the future of AI and what people can expect as it continues to evolve.
ChatGPT was released in November of 2022 by Open AI, an artificial intelligence, research, and deployment company whose mission is “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.” ChatGPT has garnered attention for its accuracy and ability to answer a myriad of questions. Much like other search engines, ChatGPT collects information from all over the internet, including, but not limited to, websites, books, and news articles. The generative AI function articulates the data in concise, well-written paragraphs. However, ChatGPT’s ability to answer questions with such human-like sophistication has formed concern among academic institutions, as the function is prone to academic fraud.
Although ChatGPT is still in its infancy, teachers have already noticed a difference in students’ work, says The New York Times, causing universities to revise academic integrity policies to include guidelines on the ethical uses of AI. Some teachers have changed how their classes function, assigning hand-written assignments, oral exams, and group work as a rebuttal to the use of AI by students outside of the classroom. The course content of certain classes has also been altered, as ChatGPT cannot go into detail about niche topics. Frederick Luis Aldama, the Chairperson of Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, now plans to teach the early sonnets of Shakespeare instead of more popular texts by the author, as ChatGPT may have less information on these texts.
With this looming threat of academic dishonesty, some teachers have incorporated AI into classwork. Teachers have already implemented ChatGPT through in-class assignments and debates. A high school English teacher, Kelly Gibson, utilizes ChatGPT in the class by “[asking] kids to generate text using the bot and then edit it themselves to find the chatbot’s errors or improve upon its writing style,” Wired states. The use of AI in classrooms may reveal a long-anticipated change in approaching teaching in the digital age. This change may be advantageous to students and promote the use of technology and AI as an aid rather than a force for academic artifice.
Open AI has addressed concerns regarding ChatGPT’s ability to contribute to misinformation and disseminate harmful information, collaborating with Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and the Stanford Internet Observatory to “investigate how large language models might be misused for disinformation purposes.” Open AI has also configured ChatGPT so that the bot will not entertain or directly answer questions that contain hate speech or deal with harmful subjects, something that has been an issue for AI in the past, as seen with a bot made by Microsoft back in 2016.
The introduction of ChatGPT and its human-like accuracy began with a combination of fear, optimism, and general precariousness. There have been rumors of chatbots becoming sentient, which has been disproven, but journalists have had unsettling conversations with bots still in the works.
As AI continues to develop, all facets of society are at a crossroads, considering one essential question: Should AI be greeted with open arms and overt optimism? Or should we tread lightly and reflect on the lessons of techno-dystopian media, proceeding with caution into this brave new world?