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The Chat about ChatGPT: How should we respond to AI learning in schools?

Almost everyone knows about the rise of artificial intelligence in technology, more specifically a software known as ChatGPT. You may have heard it through your feed on social media, panicked news channels, group chats with classmates about how to “complete” the latest homework assignment, or with your family over the dinner table. Another era of technological advancement in our lives is beginning to take place, and it is making itself known to the world. ChatGPT stands for “Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer”, and it seems to be one of the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI). The concept of AI has been around much longer than you would expect, as engineers have been training computers to “think” on their own ever since the 1950s. ChatGPT in particular is a type of AI trained to communicate with its users in a conversational format, usually referred to as a chatbot. After its launch in November of 2022, the chatbot continued to evolve its capabilities, which allowed it to perform increasingly complicated tasks. Now, ChatGPT has been found to be able to score a 5 on multiple AP exams of different subjects, reinforcing its ability to cater to the demands of public education. As a result, ChatGPT has also been used by students to complete school work and assignments that they may not particularly want to do. The issue of some students choosing to fraudulently complete their work has raised concerns across many educators, especially when it is difficult to enforce. Typically, teachers as well as professors always had the option of plagiarism detection websites, which could easily detect large portions of copied text if it was taken from somewhere on the internet. However with ChatGPT, nearly all of the content it produces is original and generated on the spot, making plagiarism detection useless against it. Additional concerns are growing since exam season is right around the corner for many students, from a highschool level all the way to university. Since many assessments also include types of assignments such as essays or long responses, professors have been on high alert for such use of ChatGPT, and unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more common. It seems as with every new detection system, another chatbot of similar style to ChatGPT appears. Currently, there is still a battle being fought regarding the control of its usage. However, this situation also presents another question, what is to be done about similar tools such as ChatGPT in the future? This answer could be determined after looking at historical examples of how new technology was introduced to the public. From the evolution of paper all the way to the internet, the education environment is one of the first places immediately affected by such an invention, as demonstrated by the eventful arrival of ChatGPT. From that, a wise approach would be to gently introduce this chatbot and its replicas into the school as a learning tool instead of banning it altogether. Allowing a tool to be implemented instead of outright banning it devalues its exclusivity as a method to cheat on school work. On top of that, allowing ChatGPT to be used in schools allows teachers to have the option to place certain requirements onto its usage, possibly controlling how and when it is used in a classroom setting. ChatGPT also has its drawbacks, as it is only able to use information on the internet up to 2021, which bars it from giving responses relevant to current events. It also does not cite any information it gathers, with no websites or links presented in its response, (though that would be due to security reasons). Keeping this in mind, ChatGPT is by no means a perfect solution for the students that chose to use it. Although students can and will always find a way to illegitimately complete assignments, the rise of ChatGPT sparks another conversation about the future of education. Since the function of AI is still limited at the replication and retrieval of information, it leaves schools the option to turn to other forms of school work, such as presentations, personalized assignments, or more creative projects. As a result, the level of difficulty in many subjects will begin to increase, requiring more human effort instead of tasks that would otherwise be easier done by AI. As AI integrates further into our lives, the same could happen to jobs, where simpler tasks become automated instead of requiring employees. Though the capabilities of AI and similar functions of ChatGPT are increasing each day, computers are still far from being human. As such, our human characteristics may see an increase in demand. People are capable of making errors, but are quicker to adapt and make changes, as well as problem solving. On top of that, future technological advances may very well rely heavier on our creativity and imagination. While the introduction of such technology is thrilling to watch, it should be out of an abundance of caution that we use ChatGPT and the like as a tool, not a replacement for many tasks in our daily lives. The advancement of technology in our lives never truly stops, and to witness its arrival is something else altogether.

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