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ChatGPT: A boon or a bane for education?

Published : Friday, 24 March, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1797
Tanvir Thamid and Faiza Tasnim Khandaker

ChatGPT: A boon or a bane for education?

ChatGPT: A boon or a bane for education?

�I think students should explore ChatGPT, but they definitely should improve and work on their writing skills as well, because writing helps develop our brain. ChatGPT will make us slaves of AIs, not the masters of our skills." This was the response of Mohammad Serajuddin, Adjunct Faculty, Department of English, Independent University, Bangladesh, when we asked him to share his thoughts on the impact of ChatGPT on education in Bangladesh and beyond. Many people share his concerns, as the phenomenal performance of ChatGPT since its emergence has both dazzled and perturbed academics, researchers, and students. The fact that ChatGPT has passed the dreaded BCS exam with flying colours only added fuel to the fire.

Other examples of ChatGPT's ability to ace competitive exams include the Bar Exam of the USA or the MBA entrance exam of Wharton. It can even craft research papers with amazing nuance and articulation. So what does ChatGPT's foray into education mean for the future of this sector? Let's find out in today's write-up!

Is ChatGPT good or bad?
In a recent interview, the American philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky described ChatGPT as "basically high-tech plagiarism" and "a way of avoiding learning." He also said that ChatGPT would make a crucial aspect of the college academic experience outdated. The experience he was referring to was writing essay assignments.

While assessing many courses around the world, professors usually place a high weight on essay assignments. In most universities worldwide, the same importance is placed on essays when evaluating students for admission.

Chomsky's statement is correct, as evidenced by the fact that many students have admitted to using ChatGPT to write essays. Indeed, the emergence of ChatGPT may soon make essays as a method of assessing students in academia obsolete. ChatGPT also severely limits the need for humans to put cognition into practice. As a result, a heavy reliance on ChatGPT may result in a rapid decline in cognitive development in students.

Many professors have been considering other options, such as putting more weight on in-person examinations rather than assessing students through essays.  It could be a solution, but it will undoubtedly harm students who are willing to write their own essays. Stephen Marche wrote in The Atlantic, and rightly so, that essays "are the way we teach children how to research, think, and write."

Because of the shift away from essays, the opportunity for sincere and hardworking students to learn these essential skills has been severely limited, which is certainly not good news. Even STEM isn't safe from ChatGPT. Although ChatGPT makes many quantitative and coding errors, it is still capable of taking the correct approach when solving math problems or completing codes.

In the case of coding, for example, it recently passed Google's level 3 engineering interview, so it can certainly complete your CS assignments with ease, as well as any other stem subjects. The most bizarre thing is that you can't even use any tool to detect cheating.

Why are students using ChatGPT?
Noam Chomsky also stated in a recent interview that students instinctively using high technology to avoid learning is "a sign that the educational system is failing".  But why is the education system failing? A few of the many reasons could be the systemic flaw, excessive pressure, and huge emphasis placed on grades over actual learning, which has led young individuals to constantly question themselves.

This self-doubt has also caused students to feel that taking help or, at times, even copying off an AI's answers like ChatGPT's helps them achieve better grades than they could on their own. The rigorous educational curriculum, which is predominantly classroom-based and has little engagement with real-life experiences and creativity, subconsciously leaves students with a sense of unfulfillment and monotony. Thus, generally, students find it easier to use AI tools to assist them in getting better grades as, in the future, they will mostly be evaluated based on their CGPA rather than their actual knowledge and intelligence.

GPT 4: The last nail in the coffin?
The arrival of GPT 4 might have much more serious implications on education as it possesses almost sentient-level reasoning skills, meaning the writing it creates has greater depth both in terms of consistency and logic. The incredible ability to process data with great precision means GPT 4 is able to produce highly comprehensive answers to even complicated research questions.

Greg Brockman, one of the co-founders of Open AI and its president, explained to Tech crunch why GPT 4 is "different" and said the following: "There's still a lot of problems and mistakes that [the model] makes � but you can really see the jump in skill in things like calculus or law, where it went from being really bad at certain domains to actually quite good relative to humans."

We do not know what awaits in the future, but one thing is certain: GPT 4 and its successors will change how the world views education. It will be interesting to see whether or not students, academics, and researchers accept this invasion of AI and to what extent.

Is there still a place for human intelligence when ChatGPT can do so much?

Yes, there is. While AIs like ChatGPT are incredibly powerful, they still need human intervention. With ChatGPT, users can get a starting point or idea, but it can never act upon those or fully compensate for the creativity and innovations in this dynamic world, where everything is constantly changing. And so, there is much to unpack with those terminologies and statements that ChatGPT creates.

Most importantly, ChatGPT generates hollow words that lack an emotional understanding of issues and solutions. Thus, although the use of ChatGPT surely saves time, it fails to capture the emotional aspect that humans who have lived through time can. So, there is still plenty of room for human intelligence and creativity to shine.

Tanvir Thamid is a student of Economics at Bates College, USA; Faiza Tasnim Khandaker is an aspiring writer and researcher

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