Artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly powerful. When Google Translate was first released in 2006, it could only translate English with 3 other languages. Ten years later, it supported the translation of over 100 languages. Google Translate, Photomath, Quillbot, and now ChatGPT are all examples of software actively being used to facilitate and enhance the learning experience. Using the same logic, ChatGPT should be seen as a tool that uplifts the core themes of education, not a threat that undermines the principles of academic integrity.
ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI that generates its responses by processing loads of training data available on the internet to recognize patterns and relationships in human language. Initially, it was designed for customer service, but its purpose has extended to writing essays, generating code, and drafting corporate plans. Even more impressive, OpenAI has been working on GPT-4, an even more creative and collaborative architecture that can process over 25,000 words of text. GPT-4 scored in the 99th percentile in the Biology Olympiad and the 90th percentile of a general Bar Exam. ChatGPT represents the rapid rate of innovation that AI has experienced in the last five years.
This chatbot should be seen as a supplemental asset that can be used to enhance students’ learning experiences. The same argument is told time and time again: If students use ChatGPT, they won’t develop critical thinking skills or understand the foundation of writing. To say that the heart of education would be compromised because of an AI tool is misleading. Schools still have the authority to hold in-person exams to evaluate students’ understanding of concepts. Software such as ChatGPT can only be used on take-home assignments. Homework is just practice material given to students to aid them in the learning process. Exams should hold the burden of assessing their understanding of the material. If a student wants to cheat on their homework, they will do so with or without ChatGPT.
The Department of Education in New York City recently banned ChatGPT amid fear of it being used for “misleading purposes” such as fabricating information in schoolwork. This moratorium on the use of the technology is naïve. Rather than banning ChatGPT, education departments and school districts should seek out ways of incorporating technology as a constructive resource for their students. This chatbot can provide students with personalized feedback on assignments around the clock. It gives students who cannot afford tutoring access to free 24/7 study support. Prohibiting ChatGPT in the learning process would be a greater misuse of the software than its actual usage.
Banning ChatGPT does not stop its application, it simply punishes those who follow the rules by having their work be compared to someone who used a chatbot and did not get caught. At one point, the rise of calculators and computers was thought to be the death of mathematics until society learned to implement them as a crutch for their skills. Essentially, schools and universities can incorporate ChatGPT into their curriculum to regulate its usage and ensure that it does not affect students’ academic performances and the development of lifelong skills. Institutions can maximize the advantages of ChatGPT by doing the following:
● Specify its intended uses: Teach students that ChatGPT can be used to summarize texts, find articles, and clarify complex concepts.
● Encourage transparency: Allow students to cite ChatGPT as a source to show they are using it responsibly.
● Implement ChatGPT detection software: AI classifiers have been created as a safeguard. They can detect direct plagiarism from the site that differentiates AI writing from human writing.
● Reinforce traditional schooling: Students’ understanding of important concepts can be tested in traditional, in-person exams. This reinforces the notion that ChatGPT is a supplement to be used after fully grasping concepts.
At the end of the day, this type of technology will always be available to youth and young adults. Schools and universities have the power to regulate its usage to ensure that academic integrity is not compromised. Just as schools cannot outlaw the use of Socratic, Grammarly, and EasyBib, they will not be able to outlaw the use of ChatGPT on school assignments. ChatGPT is not teaching students how to think, it is inputting what they already know and promoting a deeper understanding of certain topics. The prohibition of ChatGPT will be looked back upon as a frivolous mistake made by educators scared of change.
Kelly Araujo is from Miami and an Undergraduate at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. This piece was submitted as an op-ed in the Spring ‘23 PUBPOL 301 course. This content does not represent the official or unofficial views of the Sanford School, Polis, Duke University, or any entity or individual other than the author.