Ai, do my homework! How ChatGPT put educators in the face of technology
Know-it-all chatbots arrived in a big way last year, convincing an engineer that machines were becoming sentient, spreading panic that industries could be wiped out, and creating a fear of a cheating epidemic in schools and universities.
Alarm among educators has reached its peak in recent weeks over ChatGPT, an easy-to-use AI tool trained on billions of words and tons of data from the web.
He can write a semi-decent essay and answer many common questions in class, sparking a fierce discussion about the future of traditional education.
The New York City Department of Education has banned ChatGPT on its networks due to “concerns about negative effects on student learning”.
“While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Gina Lyle of the department.
A group of Australian universities said they would change exam formats to weed out artificial intelligence tools, deeming them outright cheating.
However, some in the education sector feel more comfortable about AI tools in the classroom, and some feel an opportunity rather than a threat.
– ‘A significant innovation’ –
This is partly because ChatGPT in its current form still gets things wrong.
To give one example, you’d think Guatemala is bigger than Honduras. it’s not like that.
Also, ambiguous questions can throw her off the right track.
Ask the tool to describe the Battle of Amiens and it will give a decent detail or two about the 1918 encounter from WWI.
But it does not refer to a skirmish of the same name in 1870. It takes several tries to realize its mistake.
“ChatGPT is an important innovation, but no more so than calculators or text editors,” French author and educator Antonio Caselli told AFP.
“ChatGPT can help people who are stressed out over a blank sheet of paper to write a first draft, but then still have to write it down and give style.”
Researcher Olivier Ertscheid of the University of Nantes agreed that teachers should focus on the positive.
In any case, he told AFP, high school students were already using ChatGPT, and any attempt to block it would only make it more attractive.
Instead, he said, teachers should “experiment with the limits” of AI tools, by creating scripts themselves and analyzing the results with their students.
– ‘People deserve to know’ –
But there is also another great reason to believe that educators need not panic just yet.
AI writing tools have long been in an arms race with programs seeking to sniff them out, and ChatGPT is no different.
A couple of weeks ago, an amateur programmer announced that he had spent the New Year holidays creating an application that could parse texts and determine whether they were written by ChatGPT.
“There is a lot of publicity around the talks,” Edward Tian wrote on Twitter.
“Was this and that written by artificial intelligence? We as humans deserve to know!”
Its app, GPTZero, is not the first in this area and is unlikely to be the last.
Universities already use software that detects plagiarism, so it doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to see a future where every article is bumped through an AI detector.
Campaigners also float the idea of digital watermarks or other forms of signifier that will define the work of AI.
OpenAI, which owns ChatGPT, said it is already working on a “statistical watermark” prototype.
This suggests that educators will be fine in the long run.
But Caselli, for example, still believes that the effect of such tools has great symbolic significance.
It partly upended the rules of the game, he said, in which teachers ask questions of their pupils.
Now, the student asks the device before checking everything in the output.
“Every time new tools come out, we start to worry about potential abuse, but we also find ways to use them in our education,” Caselli said.