ChatGPT: 7 things students need to know
The launch of ChatGPT has sparked numerous controversies, especially relating to its role in education. This article will explain all the details that students are curious about.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI which was co-founded in 2015 by Elon Musk and Sam Altman and is backed by well-known investors — most notably Microsoft.
The chatbot was launched on November 30,2022, and was designed to simulate conversation with human users. It answers your questions in seconds. It produces text rather than images, video, or sound. Using a Chrome extension called Talk-toChatGPT it can understand both spoken and written commands
How to use it?
To use ChatGPT you must create an account on the ChatGPT website, following which you will be able to input any questions or prompts into a text box.
It is also possible to use ChatGPT on mobile devices by either downloading the app or opening the Chat GPT website in the mobile browser and creating an account using your email and mobile number.
‘We’re launching a pilot subscription plan for ChatGPT, a conversational AI that can chat with you, answer follow-up questions, and challenge incorrect assumptions.’
This software is currently free, however, Open AI announced ChatGPT Pro in February which is pay-to-use.
This version will cost £16 ($20) a month and will provide priority access, quicker load times, and access to updates and new features before the standard version.
Can it be used for essay writing?
Students are capable of using ChatGPT to write essays using prompts relating to the question. This creates a risk of plagiarism as students may copy this rather than writing it themselves. As there are limitations in the accuracy of the information which ChatGPT provides this must be taken into account when using it for essay writing.
On the other hand, ChatGPT can be used to provide information and a structure for essays which can be used by students as a research tool for their writing.
What are students saying?
There are a range of opinions held by students in regard to the use of ChatGPT.
Some feared that it may threaten their learning by hindering their motivation and critical thinking skills, they told The New York Times when asked how they thought schools should respond.
Others however believe that it has the capabilities to aid learning and prepare them for a future in which AI may play a role in their lives. These students believe that teachers should apply ChatGPT to their teaching as a tool for learning rather than banning it.
In New York, the city’s education department has forbidden ChatGPT on all devices and networks in New York public schools.
Some teachers have chosen to incorporate ChatGPT into their teaching. A teacher in Oregon allowed students to use ChatPGT as an outline for an essay. They then used this structure to write the essay, applying their own knowledge to it.
The international baccalaureate (IB) has taken the same approach towards ChatGPT, allowing students to use it as a source of information as long as it is “credited in the body of the text and appropriately referenced in the bibliography”.
How accurate is the information provided by ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was trained using text databases from the internet with 300 billion words being fed into the system. This included sources such as books, Wikipedia, articles, and other pieces of writing on the internet.
However, the software has some accuracy limitations in its information and has a limited knowledge of the world after 2021. As it accesses information from the internet to build its knowledge, it can be influenced by fake news and conspiracy theories to include information which is not entirely truthful.
ChatGPT may also misunderstand what the prompt is trying to ask if it involves too many factors or becomes too niche. This may result in parts of the prompt being ignored completely in the response.
It has also been found to give different answers depending on the phrasing of the question or may give different answers to the same question.
What are the other controversies behind it?
ChatGPT is largely trained using words from the internet which causes ethical issues as it is able to develop biases, stereotypes, and opinions commonly found on the internet. This then influences the responses it gives to prompts.
OpenAI has put precautions in place for particular prompts which are deemed unsuitable such as requests related to dangerous weapons and bullying.
There is the risk of spreading false information due to the inaccuracies in some of the information provided by ChatGPT. These inaccuracies, such as bad medical advice, can cause harm in the real world.
AI chatbots such as ChatGPT also pose the risk of making cybercrime easier to carry out.
“It is important to note that while I strive to provide accurate and helpful information to users, I am still a machine and may not always get it right. Therefore, it is crucial for users to critically evaluate the information I provide and consult multiple sources to form their own informed opinions,” said ChatGPT when asked to explain its own controversies.
Who are the ChatGPT competitors?
OpenAI is not the only company creating this software. However, the majority of other models are not currently available to the public unlike OpenAI who opened access during the test process. Google has developed LaMDA, a chatbox focused on talking and imagining, which is only available to selected groups of a limited capacity during the test process.