Monday Motivation: An Educationist’s Perspective on ChatGPT

Progress is dependent on our adaptability to change. Change is inevitable and as the human mind is programmed to think, development is unstoppable. It is the human mind that has created Artificial Intelligence and the field is growing rapidly. For the past several years I had been hearing about the intervention of AI in various fields, rather in all aspects of human life. However, for a non-techie like me it was a revelation when Dr. Raman, Dean of Faculty of Management, Symbiosis, showed me a presentation on the application of AI in the filed of Education. While I was amazed to see the various applications, I was also concerned about the probability of the younger generation misusing these applications. Symbiosis too has created a Centre for Excellence in AI which is dedicated to research and development but with a focus on not losing or rather incorporating humaneness in all that we develop.

In November 2022, ChatGPT became quite the rage. To give a bit of background to other non-techies like me GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer. You may come across GPT 3 etc. which stand for the generation. To quote the makers “ChatGPT is a powerful AI bot that engages in human-like dialogue based on a prompt. It is designed to respond in a natural, intuitive way and has numerous potential uses.” For those who have tried ChatGPT, it interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. ChatGPT is a sibling model to InstructGPT, which is trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response.

I, as an educationist, like many others like me are worried about the repercussions of this technology. My first concern is about students using the tool to do their homework, write their assignments or even publish research papers based on the content generated by ChatGPT! Though the creators of ChatGPT have also created the new AI classifier tool which will help users determine whether a block of text was written by a human or a computer. However, I am still anxious as we teachers are not so tech savvy as the younger generation is. Students will of course get immense help in answering questions but I guess one will have to leave it to their conscious judgement whether they want to grow their own intelligence or allow AI to override it!

While several foreign universities are grappling with it, thankfully at Symbiosis we still have the midterm and final exams in the offline mode which is hand written. Some Indian and a few private universities have started banning Chat GPT, but in my view banning is not a solution. Framing policies which can help students use these AI tools and at the same time learning is the way ahead. This not easy but, in my view its also not something which is impossible.

Finally, we do have to adapt to new age technology and make students understand that these are tools that have to be applied for the betterment of our society.