Progress in the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving at lightning speed, and the introduction of a new chatbot that can automatically generate anything from a joke to a school essay for lazy tech-savvy students of any grade level has one former teacher concerned that the technology could create a learning crisis that will “blow up” the U.S. education system.
Tech geeks and curious online users alike have been touting the advanced functions of an AI chatbot, ChatGPT, unveiled last week by OpenAI.
According to its website, the bot is able “to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”
It can give detailed answers to complex questions on any subject, write poems, come up with marketing pitches, and even write its own computer code.
“ChatGPT is scary good,” tweeted Elon Musk. “We are not far from dangerously strong AI.”
ChatGPT is scary good. We are not far from dangerously strong AI.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 3, 2022
Peter Laffin is a writing coach and the founder of Crush the College Essay. While he fears the technology could be used by students to cheat on their assignments, he argues it could be “a good thing.”
“The introduction of new artificial intelligence technologies into schools that enables students to auto-generate essays has the capacity to blow up our entire writing education curriculum,” he told Fox News. “It may make us have to rethink it from the ground up, and that might ultimately be a good thing.”
(Video: Fox News)
Teachers, he predicted, will not be able to spot the students who turned to AI to do their homework for them.
“I do believe that students will be able to use this technology undetected to complete assignments,” he said. “It’s going to be increasingly difficult for teachers to be able to tell the difference.”
At the greatest risk of having their education impacted, said Laffin, are the younger students and those who live in the inner-city, where there are fewer teachers available to become familiar with individual students’ work.
“The more easily available this is for younger students, the more problems this will create,” he warned.
College students “are already at a level of sophistication where you understand the content,” Laffin explained, so using ChatGPT to knock out a “busywork” assignment won’t affect them as much. But for kids who use it to produce, say, a history paper, “you’ve not only cheated on a writing exercise, you’ve also cheated yourself out of learning the history.”
Unbelievably, the AI-powered ChatGPT is free for the public to use — the first user-friendly text generator to be offered as such. In under a week, more than 1 million users from around the world tried it out for themselves.
“The striking thing about the reaction to ChatGPT is not just the number of people who are blown away by it, but who they are,” wrote one user on Twitter. “These are not people who get excited by every shiny new thing. Clearly something big is happening.”
The striking thing about the reaction to ChatGPT is not just the number of people who are blown away by it, but who they are. These are not people who get excited by every shiny new thing. Clearly something big is happening.
— Paul Graham (@paulg) December 2, 2022
Laffin is hopeful that the technology will be used to improve students’ writing skills, not hamper them.
“The fact that this might cause a crisis in education might ultimately be to our benefit,” he said. “Because writing is something that we just don’t teach very well.”
Teachers will need to ditch the standard five-paragraph essays they assign and move, instead, to more innovative models of teaching, Laffin said.
“The practices in schools always seem to lag behind a little bit what the latest technology is,” he explained. “You can always be sure that kids are going to be one step ahead of the teachers, so there needs to be a lot of vigilance on this.”
On Fox’s “The Five,” the panel asked ChatGPT to compose a poem about the show.
“‘The Five’ on FOX News is quite a sight, with a panel that’s always so bright,” the bot shot back. “They entertain and inform with their banter and charm and have viewers tune in day and night.”
“Well, inform and charm don’t rhyme,” Dana Perino noted.
“Yeah, that’s lousy rhyming,” Geraldo Rivera agreed.
According to co-host Jesse Watters, “Our jobs are safe.”
But Jeanine Pirro had more serious concerns.
(Video: Fox News)
“It doesn’t Google things. It spits out what you give it,” she said. “So if you’re going to feed information about education, is it CRT [Critical Race Theory] you’re feeding, is it the woke stuff you’re feeding?”
“Teachers now have certain things that they can test if you plagiarized an essay or something,” she added. “They can’t do it now with this stuff. This creates a tremendous negative.”
Co-host Greg Gutfeld was more optimistic about AI.
“Our whole existence is about probability,” he said. “We sit around and try to figure out what’s going to happen in the next minute, the next block, or the next day. That’s all our brain does is think about probability.”
“AI solves probability,” he stated. “It tells you what’s going to happen next.”
He looked to the day when AI no longer needs human input.
“What we’re seeing right now is an AI that is still controlled by humans,” he said. “As long as humans are on the front of this equation, we have no idea what it could do, no idea. But once AI becomes independent and autonomous, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
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