Embracing the Unknown: AI’s Role in Education


By Luke Crisp

Recently, there has been talk about the possibility of IE University adapting their exam rules. This possible adaptation during an academic term is not due to mass cheating but to a change in technology which they believe makes the current way of doing things no longer sustainable. Currently, many exams are open-book, meaning that students are able to consult their notes, the professors’ slides and… the internet. With the advent of AI services capable of writing entire essays and answering essentially any question, it makes sense to reevaluate this set-up. However, simply banning us from using any sort of technological tools is not a viable path forward.

ChatGPT is the new AI tool which seemingly emerged from nowhere and completely changed the way we see AI. Its newfound prevalence poses a complicated question to educators. This question is more than just should it be banned or not, but rather: how could they teach pupils to use it correctly? 

According to data from Katharina Buchholz, ChatGPT attained one million users faster than any other popular online service has before. This not only shows its punctual popularity, but also that people saw its value and recognized that it won’t disappear anytime soon. Banning services like ChatGPT would be an ineffective half measure. As history has proven, banning something only makes people want to use it more. Instead of attempting to put AI back in the box, we have to learn to incorporate it into our work and study. Equally, administering closed book exams is no longer representative of the real world and does not test the skills schools should be testing.

We now live in a world where everyone is connected all the time. All but a few countries have internet and of those, many have high speed, reliable internet connections, meaning that wherever you are, you have access to every bit of information humanity has ever created. This has been the case for many years now, since the creation of the World Wide Web. ChatGPT is just the next step.

ChatGPT is able to give fully cited, accurate answers to any question, at a level that can rival humans. And it is only one of many AI tools. There are many others that can (and will) change the ways of doing assignments even more.  

One large problem exists with these AI services: their complete confidence in their answers. Often these chatbots will make a claim and assert it as true and irrefutable even when, upon further research, it becomes evident that this is not the case. We need to be taught to properly use these services if we want to truly optimize them. Similarly to when computers started to become commonplace in the workplace and being able to use them was a marketable skill, being able to use AI tools properly will be one as well. 

Banning us, as students, from being able to use these services would leave us behind the curve, and for a university who promotes technology in learning and in the workplace, it would be counterproductive. Empowering us with the knowledge necessary to truly utilize this new technology will make us stand out on the job market and will teach us all–students, faculty and staff– how the unknown should not be feared, but learnt. As the captain of the USS Enterprise, James T. Kirk, wisely said, “there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”

ChatGPT is a remarkable service that has the potential to be as revolutionizing as the enigma machine. It brings us to a new level of thinking. Now it is up to us to learn to embrace it and not to ignore it.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

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