By: Rayhan Subi
ChatGPT is a buzzword now among tech enthusiasts and common folk alike. Given a detailed prompt, this AI chatbot – developed by openAI – is capable of churning out articles, writings, and stories and culminating them into a detailed essay. It also has the ability to have coherent conversations with its users. It browses through a large bank of digital information fed by researchers from academic sources, digital archives, and even the internet. It recognizes the pattern in the prompt given and generates a sensible outcome. An all-knowing AI chatbot seems like something out of a dystopian future, but like many other technological advancements, it has its benefits and its downsides.
Although technology has had a largely positive impact in the field of education, students exploit it and misuse the resources they have access to. It’s easier now than ever to look up solutions to a problem on the internet and copy them down without giving a second thought to the question or even attempting to solve it on your own. If COVID wasn’t enough, ChatGPT has made this epidemic worse by allowing students to write entire articles, essays, and other written pieces with AI tools that require minimal efforts. At face value, the essays and answers produced by ChatGPT seem well-written and free from grammatical errors. However, despite its veil of perfection, most essays written by ChatGPT lack the personality and objectivity found in essays and stories written by people.
ChatGPT’s exam-taking capability has also been put to the test. So far, it’s passed a Wharton MBA exam, the United States Medical Licensing Exam, and multiple law exams conducted in the USA. The difficulty of these exams relies largely upon the test-takers’ rote knowledge of the material, which isn’t an issue for ChatGPT, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of terabytes of data that is being used to train it. It’s simple for an AI platform to pass exams when the majority of the answers are a direct reproduction of the course material, which has long been a problem for most competitive exams. Well-crafted exams that test your logical skills make the test taker think and share their opinions or unique solutions, something that ChatGPT has not yet been able to perfect, mainly due to the lack of a personal touch.
The primary purpose of education is not only to provide students with technical knowledge in their chosen fields but, most importantly, to provide the student with the ability to think for themselves. Ultimately, though, the system has spiraled into a mess; testing the students on seemingly irrelevant matters and restricting their creative freedom has not done students any good but has rather made them lose interest. Linguist and former MIT professor Noam Chomsky argues that AI is the “banality of evil” since it promotes plagiarism and kills creativity. AI responses have also been reported to be factually incorrect on occasions and produce racist, sexist, and ableist comments due to the internet responses that the chatbot has been trained with. ChatGPT and other emerging AI tools are certainly not a substitute for traditional writing, but if the underlying issues with academia are addressed and AI development proceeds at a rate greater than it is now, the future of education could see a massive shift in favor of AI-based models, which, all prejudices aside, is really what the younger generation needs.