For a number of college seniors at Texas A&M University, the chance to throw their hats in the air and pose with a slightly thinner, longer rolled up piece of toilet paper has been denied, for now.
Dr Jared Mumm, an instructor and teacher in the agricultural resources and natural sciences department decided to paste the last three of his students’ essays into ChatGPT.
He asked the programme whether it was likely that the technology has written the essays. “Certainly!” it replied in its overtly polite and overly keen tone.
He then sent an email to more than 50% of his students informing them that they would be receiving an “X” instead of a letter at the other end of the alphabet.
The email went viral after it was posted by a user on Reddit.
Did ChatGPT write the essays?
Some have leapt to the defence of the students, arguing that the technology isn’t built to detect whether the content has been written by itself.
With the right prompts, it’s possible to generate many fallacious responses from the AI, and would essentially try to argue that black is white in some cases.
The college stressed that the grade was only temporary, and that Dr. Mumm has offered to provide catch-up lessons in order that the students can pass their courses and actually graduate. After all, it would be a shame that they had spent all that time playing beer pong and holding slightly strange masonic frat house parties, but ending up not passing their courses.
AI’s effect on education
In the interest of balanced journalism, we contacted ChatGPT about what its effect on education was. With its ready availability for comment, it replied:
“”ChatGPT has significantly transformed education by enabling personalized learning, aiding language acquisition, enhancing writing skills, and offering interactive engagement. It’s a useful tool for both students, providing homework and tutoring assistance, and educators, offering grading and teaching support. However, we must balance its use with careful consideration of potential challenges such as misinformation, data security, and overreliance on AI.”
Education institutions, teachers, lecturers and learning providers are greeting ChatGPT with a mix of skepticism, cynicism and unease. Some have said that it robs students of a lack of critical thought and research opportunities. Others meanwhile, say that AI and language learning models (LLM) like ChatGPT are now here to stay, so it’s important that students learn to study with it effectively rather than relying on it too much.
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