Civilization is constantly evolving. There’s a never-ending cycle of innovations that re-shape society from generation to generation. Technology has advanced rapidly in the last century with the mass popularization of many technological advancements such as computers, the internet, bluetooth and smartphones.
After each launch, there’s generally a sense of concern of the damage this new invention could potentially create. Society tends to reject these new technologies that pose a threat to substitute humanity, according to Calestous Juma, former executive secretary for UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in an article in the World Economic Forum.
The rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) is no different.
Though many of the concerns that revolve around AI are valid and there should be various laws and repercussions made, society must acknowledge that AI will continue to advance regardless of people’s concerns — so people should try to accept it rather than defying it.
With the popularization of ChatGPT, AI — technology that can complete tasks typically done by humans — has become a hot topic. ChatGPT was released Nov. 30, 2022, and is part of a set of technologies designed by the San Francisco-based startup, OpenAI. ChatGPT is a free online chatbot that specializes in computing essays, business plans, code and translations. The chatbot uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and retrieves its data from textbooks, websites and various articles. It can do a human’s work in seconds. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a whirlwind of concern from the general public about what this means for the future of learning, day-to-day tasks and the functionality of jobs.
Technology has already started to replace jobs. For example, in most dining areas on JMU campus, kiosks have replaced workers taking orders. AI and ChatGPT are predicted to do something similar. In a CBS article about the replacement of clerical and administrative jobs by ChatGPT. ChatGPT has been proven to write such documents at a higher proficiency than people, indicating the possible termination of those positions.
Though the idea of a bot taking over certain jobs is unsettling, there are other working professionals who’ve stated they utilize the bot to help improve their work. Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of online provider Coursera, told CBS he treats the bot like a member of his team.
“I ask ChatGPT to become aware of where my biases and blindspots might be, and the answers it gives are a really, really good starting point to check your thinking,” said Maggioncalda.
Another major concern is ethical questions concerning education: Should students be allowed to use ChatGPT for their schoolwork? Can they cite it? If students are prohibited, can professors use it for their lectures due to its proficiency? There aren’t really any black and white answers.
Johnny Craddock, a sophomore business major at JMU, said in his opinion, it shouldn’t be used for schoolwork unless under certain circumstances.
“I don’t think it should be used in school because in the long run it’s not going to help anyone learn if you’re just using it to look up answers,” Craddock said. “Although, it could be beneficial if you’re looking at steps of how to solve a problem.”
Some school districts subscribe to that same view. According to NBC, New York City has already restricted the use of ChatGPT on all public school devices and networks. New York City school spokesperson, Jenna Lyle, said she believes AI is restrictive of students’ overall learning.
“While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,” Lyle told NBC.
While there should be restrictions on how and what students use ChatGPT for — there’s still a chance for error and bias from the chatbot as OpenAI states the chatbot isn’t informed about events after 2021 — it’s a fairly reputable source that gives accurate information in seconds. So, why shouldn’t students be allowed to use it to fact check their work or grab bits of information for research as long as it’s cited?
There should be an age limit for ChatGPT like there is for other technology — but if schools can find a good balance, students and teachers should be able to use AI to improve research efficiency and proficiency. According to The New York Times, an English teacher from Oregon tested the chatbot with her students by having them use it to outline a research paper. She reported this method allowed her students to more deeply understand the material while simultaneously teaching them how to appropriately use AI models.
There are various ethical and moral dilemmas that arise with the popularization of AI. It’s terrifying to think of the possible negative outcomes: There are risks of it lowering students’ critical thinking and motivation along with it taking over certain professions. But with a balance of ethics, rules and regulations, it could enhance our day-to-day lives instead of destroying them.
“I think at this point it’s better to accept it because it’s not going away,” Craddock said. “Even if it does get shut down, someone can just create another one by coding, so it’s pointless to not accept it.”
Contact Oriana Lukas at email@example.com. For more editorials regarding the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the opinion desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Opinion.