This in-depth, three-part series, will be breaking down the mystery surrounding the new AI chatbot, ChatGPT. The first part answered questions such as what is it, how did it start, and what are its goals? The second piece covered the implications ChatGPT may have on academics and looked more closely at the opinions of SAU professors and students. In this third and final part of the series, Evie Breitbach will dig into whether there are positive uses for the ChatGPT in an academic setting.
Thus far, ChatGPT has proven itself to be capable of performing a lot of tasks almost or as well as humans can. Shockingly, the debate over ChatGPT in an academic setting hasn’t been over whether it should be allowed, but rather, how it can be utilized in a positive way. While there still is a fear that it will replace human jobs, take over, or that people will become lazy, there is also a lot of talk about the positive ways that ChatGPT can be used such as to prepare for tests, to be used as a topic in class, or even to write a baseline for your next essay.
In the previous edition, we talked with Dr. Tanya Randle (philosophy) and Dr. Marianne Fenn (communications) about their general thoughts and concerns surrounding chatbot technology, and this time, they provided more insights into the topic.
The first topic brought up in an interview with Dr. Randle was the most common way people have been using ChatGPT: to write essays. Randle suggests that it’s acceptable to use the software to create your paper, but that is most certainly not your finished product. Randle said, “Have ChatGPT write the paper first, look at it, check its sources, and then revise it. It provides a good starting place, but how would you build from it or change it?”
In addition to just writing papers, ChatGPT can present itself as an interesting new topic for disciplines such as philosophy.
“In Philosophy 100 we are focusing on tech,” Randle said. “Maybe we will have them do a project in which the chatbot writes their paper, and then reflect on what it means to be human in a world where you don’t have to think if you don’t want to.”
Dr. Fenn brought up another good point. “Perhaps, (ChatGPT) could be used as a tool for preparing for exams or better understanding a topic. Instead of a human study partner, ChatGPT could become your study partner by generating practice test questions or helping you better understand a concept or process,” Fenn said.
Not only can students utilize this technology, but teachers can too! “Some faculty have used it to write letters of recommendation, but they generally need to go back in to make them seem more human and relevant,” said Randle.
The most important thing to consider when looking at all the things ChatGPT can and can’t do is that throughout history, there has always been pushback against new technology. When the typewriter was invented, critics said that it would never go anywhere! It later became a “key” component of society, evolving into the modern day keyboard we all know so well, and use on the daily.
In fact, every generation has certain technologies that it has pushed back against, and chatbot software just happens to be the most recent one. If society can learn to harness ChatGPT and similar applications for good, then there is truly nothing to be afraid of.
As Dr. Randle stated, “Students are probably going to use it as a tool, so it becomes a question of how do we use it? It’s like Wikipedia; you can’t outlaw it, but you can work with it.”
ChatGPT is unlike anything that modern-day society has seen, and because of that, it solves old problems, whilst creating new ones. There are many things it can do, but in the end, artificial intelligence will never have the “human touch” that we all value so greatly. Because of that, ChatGPT will never truly replace humans, but it does raise many questions about what it means to be human in this modern world.
This series is best summed up with a quote from freshman student, Sofie Garcia, “I think that ChatGPT is a gateway to a whole new area of possibilities.”
This is the final article of this three-part series about ChatGPT. Thank you to those who followed along throughout the entire series!