Academic AI

The future of anti-intellucatalism, or educational reform?

IV Leader Staff

A recent explosion of AI in the academic world has many students and staff rethinking the future of school.

Created by OpenAI, ChatGPT is a general-purpose chatbot that responds to prompts using information from across the internet. For example, one could have written, “Editorial on AI in school settings” into the textbox, copied the 400 words that popped up in 4 seconds, and pasted it all as their own in this newsletter.

I did not do that, of course.

But I could have.

Truth be told, (with a bit of revising) it would be hard to tell if I did—so I’m sure you can see where this could be a problem for kids who don’t necessarily care about academic integrity. Plus, it’s not just articles that this chatbot can write, but research papers, plays and poems, resumes, music and more.

In the future, it’s likely that ChatGPT will implement a watermark feature, signaling work not created by a student. But DigitalTrends says that may take a while, and it’s entirely possible that paying for a premium subscription could make that problem go away. It’s also not a longshot to say there will soon be competitors to ChatGPT, creating a conglomeration of hard-to-track plagiarism with no standard rules. And while some schools are banning ChatGPT across campus networks, you know as well as I do: when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Technology has long been turning itself over into bigger, better, and more mind-blowing designs. Should professors and students simply accept AI as part of the classroom, just as computers were introduced to US schools in the 1980s? It seems fair to say that, whether they agree or not, the answer will be yes.

As a result, many educators are sure AI spells the end of essay writing, as there will be no verifiable way of proving a student has submitted their own work. This idea is concerning for a number of reasons: the main one, a lack of critical thought in the classroom, and later the real world.

This is a reasonable fear, but one that may focus too much on the past. For years, there has been strain in the US education system over its emphasis on test scores, rote memorization, and rigid
structure. Though I don’t expect AI alone to magically solve these problems, I do feel it can bring much-needed change to an outdated program.

Less focus on keyboards and screens can be an avenue to more hands-on learning—especially important for kids who will go into the workface to avoid the ever-growing cliff of college debt. Prioritizing talking over typing in grade school may help to slow rising trends of social anxiety. And before I say this, let me clarify: I am pursuing a career in education. But if kids gain a smidge more free time thanks to ChatGPT in a world where every moment of their day is dedicated to sports, school and work… would it really be that bad?

I’m no scholar, and I’m certainly not trying to sell you on system-wide plagiarism. I simply think AI isn’t something we should necessarily fear; if used—or not used—correctly, I think it can redesign a curriculum in serious need of reform.