NU community members consider ChatGPT’s impact on academic community


Illustration by Iliana Garner

According to some members of the Northwestern community, ChatGPT’s ability to effectively write detailed responses to directed instructions in human-like prose poses a threat to academic integrity and development.

Essay bots may be the next industry to be automated thanks to AI program ChatGPT.

Artificial intelligence can be used to perform a variety of human-like tasks, including turning information from the Internet into detailed written responses such as essays.

The AI ​​program ChatGPT, launched by OpenAI last November and already one of the most popular chatbot models, has sparked debate about the potential impact of AI writing programs on academic integrity. Bot can produce endless evidence-based responses to targeted instruction.

History Prof. Michael Allen said that AI writing programs do not stimulate intellectual activity or offer unique interpretations.

“I think the whole point of learning (is) to know yourself, to understand the problems you’re facing in real time,” Allen said. “It’s not about tests. It’s not about grades. It’s not about degrees. These things happen naturally as part of the process. But the real value isn’t even practical at all. It’s psychological, emotional (and) cognitive.

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However, some students believe that AI can improve their writing.

Weinberg senior Avery Keare, chair of the Education Committee for the Responsible AI Student Organization, said students can use AI programs to come up with ideas or correct writing that could positively impact student learning. RAISE examines ethics and AI.

“I think these tools can be used as collaboratives, where ultimately the student is still in charge and still making executive, creative and critical thinking decisions,” Kiere said.

She said the growing influence of AI in academia and the ability of these programs to gather information efficiently calls traditional educational methods into question.

She also added that universities may need to reassess the way courses work with students to develop critical thinking skills.

“ChatGPT should be a wake-up call for both students and professors to really examine what they’re trying to teach and what we’re trying to learn,” Kiere said.

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English professor Daisy Hernandez said that when she taught at the University of Miami, students in her fiction writing class took a workshop on AI writing programs.

Hernandez said the AI ​​program her class used demonstrated knowledge of common storytelling techniques.

“On the one hand, it was really nice to just have that interaction with an AI system, but then it also raised a lot of questions about what assumptions (the) algorithms are making about how we tell stories,” Hernandez said.

She noted that her experience with the technology was “fantastic all around,” but because AI writing programs rely on basic conventions, they don’t produce particularly creative work.

While ChatGPT gathers a collection of factual information from the Internet and transforms it into a generated essay on any topic, professors are concerned that the technology cannot offer unique perspectives.

Allen said the use of AI programs can misrepresent a student’s individuality.

“You’re conflating your name, yourself, your identity, your state and any school or institution you might be a part of with this autonomous technology that you don’t own,” Allen said. “And that feels really alienating to me.”

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Using a computer program instead of individual analysis can cause students to have trouble applying critical thinking skills after college, he added.

He compared students who use the program to teenagers who present an image of themselves on social media that doesn’t match reality.

“I feel a certain appeal, especially to young people who don’t really know who they are,” Allen said. “But then you’ll never learn. You’ll never become who you want to be. You’ll just buy a fake version of yourself.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @JulianAndreone

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