ChatGPT as a new calculator for language
[Originally published in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. Translated and restructured by chatgpt.]
A student must understand how a text is structured and be able to analyze arguments.
Summarizing a book or creating a presentation on new consumer behavior. These are examples of assignments that no longer require students to work on themselves. With the arrival of the smart text generator ChatGPT last fall, anyone can get a book summary, thesis, or inspiring story from the computer with just a few clicks. Where mental arithmetic was replaced by the calculator long ago, ChatGPT is now doing the same for language. Teachers don’t have to worry. They should treat this smart computer tool the same way as they treat calculators.
Text generator ChatGPT
Some teachers are in panic. This is understandable because there is a fear that knowledge and language proficiency will decline as students leave their homework to ChatGPT. The text generator can easily and quickly spout ready-made sentences or produce complete papers. The process of searching for information, learning, and translating it into a summary in your own words is all skipped. Teachers everywhere are talking about plagiarism. They are even calling for ChatGPT to be banned or for a paywall to be used for the use of the text generator.
The big question is whether there will be a ChatGPT ban. Even then, there is work to be done for teachers. After all, the use of artificial intelligence is already widespread and will develop faster and further in the coming years. This smart computer tool exists and further development cannot be stopped. Who knows, a watermark or paywall may be needed. Either way, it now mainly depends on how teachers and students learn to deal with ChatGPT. This requires a revised view of media literacy, reading comprehension, and giving and checking homework.
While the calculator is reliable, that cannot yet be proven for ChatGPT. The current quality is very variable. However, this does not detract from the fact that ChatGPT is already a good tool. Therefore, schools should treat ChatGPT in the same way as they treat calculators. Allowing the smart tool for one assignment and not for the other. Teachers should also provide clarity about both the strengths and pitfalls of ChatGPT. What is the point of knowing the table of nine by heart if the calculator can also do it? And why should a student write a paper about hamsters if ChatGPT can do it just as easily?
It is important that students understand how a calculator arrives at an answer. This also applies to language. So also for ChatGPT. A student must understand how a text is structured, be able to analyze arguments, and be able to come up with interesting angles for a text themselves. This way, time for basic descriptions can be exchanged for more attention to new insights.
These new insights are much needed for our society, which is becoming increasingly complex. So, if ChatGPT can be used in such a way that it leads to better education because students can easily leave the rote learning to the computer and can further develop on their way to new stories and insights, it is better for everyone. The calculator has brought us a lot. Let ChatGPT do the same.
About Thijs Pepping
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society. He specialized in Humanistic Counselling and Education at the University of Humanistics in Utrecht and worked for five years with autistic children. His background in psychology and philosophy drives him to find meaningful answers to business related questions and to provoke whenever necessary. He is co-author of multiple publications on the impact of new technologies, such as ‘The FrankensteinFactor’, ‘AI First – Learning from the machine’, and ‘The Pursuit of Digital Happiness’ series. See labs.sogeti.com/research for his previous and current work. VINT provides practical insight into the likely impact and innovative applications of new technologies for organizations worldwide. This valuable intelligence helps public and private sector enterprises to anticipate and plan for the complex dynamics of the future. The use of new technological developments is aimed at generating value that anticipates future developments.
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