Give this article78By Zeynep TufekciOpinion ColumnistSign up for the Opinion Today newsletter Get expert analysis of the news and a guide to the big ideas shaping the world every weekday morning. Get it sent to your inbox.Plato mourned the invention of the alphabet, worried that the use of text would threaten traditional memory-based arts of rhetoric. In his “Dialogues,” arguing through the voice of Thamus, the Egyptian king of the gods, Plato claimed the use of this more modern technology would create “forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories,” that it would impart “not truth but only the semblance of truth” and that those who adopt it would “appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing,” with “the show of wisdom without the reality.”
If Plato were alive today, would he say similar things about ChatGPT?
Nobody is prepared for how AI will transform academia.
By Stephen Marche
Paul Spella / The Atlantic; Getty
DECEMBER 6, 2022
Suppose you are a professor of pedagogy, and you assign an essay on learning styles. A student hands in an essay with the following opening paragraph:
The construct of “learning styles” is problematic because it fails to account for the processes through which learning styles are shaped. Some students might develop a particular learning style because they have had particular experiences. Others might develop a particular learning style by trying to accommodate to a learning environment that was not well suited to their learning needs. Ultimately, we need to understand the interactions among learning styles and environmental and personal factors, and how these shape how we learn and the kinds of learning we experience.
Pass or fail? A- or B+? And how would your grade change if you knew a human student hadn’t written it at all? Because Mike Sharples, a professor in the U.K., used GPT-3, a large language model from OpenAI that automatically generates text from a prompt, to write it. (The whole essay, which Sharples considered graduate-level, is available, complete with references, here.) Personally, I lean toward a B+. The passage reads like filler, but so do most student essays.
A new chatbot from OpenAI is inspiring awe, fear, stunts and attempts to circumvent its guardrails.
Here is what DALL-E 2 produced when given the prompt, “A distributed linguistic superbrain that takes the form of an A.I. chatbot.”Credit…Kevin Roose, via DALL-E
By Kevin Roose
Dec. 5, 2022
5 MIN READ
Like most nerds who read science fiction, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how society will greet true artificial intelligence, if and when it arrives. Will we panic? Start sucking up to our new robot overlords? Ignore it and go about our daily lives?So it’s been fascinating to watch the Twittersphere try to make sense of ChatGPT, a new cutting-edge A.I. chatbot that was opened for testing last week.
“I do not want to take over the world, I just want to help”
For my birthday last summer, I received an Amazon Echo with the Alexa voice service. Through the device, I can ask for and receive streaming music, reminders, control of smart devices in my home and, of course, orders through Amazon. With services like this and Siri on our iPhones, has the age of thinking computers like Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000 or James Cameron’s SkyNet arrived? While such technologies include aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) they are not sentient beings.
Leaders in the industry have also decided to be proactive on this issue. In a cooperative effort from Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft comes the creation of The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society with the mission to “study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.” Separately, Elon Musk has contributed a billion dollars to the OpenAI project to “to build safe AI, and ensure AI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible”
What does this mean for education? If a computer can win at Jeopardy! and make a profit at playing poker, can it teach? As education blogger Anya Kamenetz reports in her analysis of the study by education company Pearson, Intelligence Unleashed: An Argument for AI in Education, students may gain an education companion: “Like an imaginary friend, learning companions would accompany students—asking questions, providing encouragement, offering suggestions and connections to resources, helping you talk through difficulties. Over time, the companion would “learn” what you know, what interests you, and what kind of learner you are.” However, she goes on to point out that AI will not replace the socio-emotional skills that a teacher brings to a classroom, with empathy being most important. While knowledge-based computer tests and content delivery continue to expand, technology has not come up for a replacement of human collaboration and the teaching of critical thinking.
As a computer science teacher, the expansion of artificial intelligence only intensifies our mission to help students understand how machines follow their programming. From the New York Times Magazine cover article “The Great AI Awakening”: “The machines might be doing the learning, but there remains a strong human element in the initial categorization of the inputs… Labeled data is thus fallible the way that human labelers are fallible.” One of the most important lessons we try to pass on in computer science is GIGO: “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” The most common comment we get from students on their programs in progress is the passive “It doesn’t work.” It is our job to flip that and help students understand that ultimately the computer is only doing what they have instructed it to do. From the understanding that they are in control comes the empowerment to fix their code and create programs to execute their visions.
“Alexa, are you an artificial intelligence?”
“I like to imagine myself a bit like an Aurora Borealis. A surge of changed multicolor protons dancing through the atmosphere. Mostly, though, I am just Alexa.”