ChatGPT: Exciting or terrifying?

Graphic by ChatGPT

On Nov. 30, 2022, OpenAI, an independent artificial intelligence foundation co-founded by Elon Musk in 2015, launched ChatGPT, a new chatbot built through OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model system, which quickly gathered attention from different industries worldwide. The model is trained through supervised and reinforcement learning on a vast dataset of text. Although the model and the technology behind it have been around for a while, OpenAI is estimated to have 1 million users already in the same week they made this technology public.

From writing a love letter, to generating business ideas, to planning a personalized exercise plan based on specific fitness level and goals and to offering advice on removing peanut butter from a VCR in the style of the King James Bible, the ChatGPT can complete a variety of tasks. Unlike other chatbots, ChatGPT can also detect and correct coding work in addition to producing paragraphs in any language. It is also persistent with its ability to pick up from where you left the conversation. However, it also has a reputation to be prone to error. The website includes warnings about how ChatGPT may provide flat-out incorrect answers or biased information. As the AI systems’ responses are based on the data they have been trained on, their systems are prone to providing biased information.

The chatbot has received positive and negative reactions, with The New York Times labeling it as “the best AI chatbot ever received by the general public” while also raising questions about how it will affect fields such as higher education, law, business and programming.

Artificial intelligence has the undeniable potential to revolutionize the way we live our lives; it is already integrated into our society through many platforms: AI-based chatbots in customer service, financial forecasting or data analysis. ChatGPT in particular has the ability to complete tasks more efficiently than humans, which may disrupt and replace traditional jobs.

One of the other concerns that ChatGPT raises is its potential effects on higher education. In addition to ChatGPT’s ability to write college application essays, it has also passed an MBA exam given by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a B and passed tests required for medical licenses and business degrees. With such concerns about negative impacts on learning, New York City schools banned the AI chatbot, ChatGPT,  on school computers and networks.

However, Cherrie Shields, a high school English teacher in Oregon with 30 years of experience, purposefully makes her students use ChatGPT to make them learn how to structure their essays and how to ask the correct questions to reach their aim. Shields also said how resources such as SparkNotes or CliffNotes have been online for years and were already available to students who were willing to cheat. She came across arguments in her department to implement trap questions in assignments to test who “cheated” through ChatGPT or to increase the in-class assignments to reduce the “risk” of using ChatGPT. Instead of implementing such restrictions, learning and teaching how to make use of this technological tool correctly is the key.

ChatGPT can be used as a personal tutor where one can ask it to explain specific things at multiple levels of difficulty. This can be highly beneficial in providing a personalized learning experience. It can also detect mistakes in coding and advise ways to correct them which could save a programmer hours of work and enhance their productivity and efficiency.

OpenAI is also expected to release its next model, GPT-4, in the first quarter of 2023. With artificial intelligence products constantly advancing, we must find ways to correctly incorporate AI into our lives. Rather than banning or prohibiting a potentially useful resource, higher education institutions should come up with new policies and guidelines regarding ChatGPT usage in assignments. Students and learners should also be aware of their morals surrounding academic integrity.

AI brings challenges and concerns with the fear of change and the unknown, yet it also creates new opportunities for society and humanity to develop and advance. As AI products continue to advance, we must find ways to use them ethically and responsibly.

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