ChatGPT Supporters Promise a Better Future, But Educators Are Concerned

by Uri Bashan, Staff Writer

In November of this year, OpenAI launched ChatGPT: the latest version of their text-generation AI. ChatGPT can write and have conversations with its users. According to OpenAI’s website (and independent testing), ChatGPT is unique in that it can “answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.” Many people, upon reading this, envision a future where AI writes everything for us, and complex thinking is about as useful as knowing morse code. Proponents of ChatGPT say it can make a world where this AI lets anyone find the words they need, and use it as a helpful study aid or even a counselor to anyone who needs it while giving teachers some sorely-needed room to breathe.

Many schools have begun banning ChatGPT out of fear that students, many of whom are already behind due to COVID, will begin to use the nearly undetectable ChatGPT to do school assignments for them. ChatGPT’s defenders describe this situation as analogous to the ironic saying, “You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket.” This suggests long-form writing skills could become obsolete when you can just ask “the robot” to write things for you, just like how solving complex calculations in your head has become partially replaced with using a calculator. Critics of this analogy argue that calculators still require an understanding of the material to produce good work, while ChatGPT can write entire essays based on the title of a book.

A better analog for ChatGPT’s capabilities is PhotoMath, an AI that is considered cheating by most teachers because it does all of the work for you. However, proponents of ChatGPT argue, schools are supposed to prepare students for real-life careers. Employers will one day expect writers to use AI tools to complete work, they say, and if schools don’t prepare students for this reality, then their students will fall behind. Some districts are working on incorporating AI into lessons to better prepare students for this reality. Only time will tell if society will remember AI as the dawn of a new epoch for the written word, or little more than a curiosity. You may all be wondering, did I write this article using ChatGPT? Maybe. Who knows? (I tried, but it was too cliche.)