How Chat GPT and other generative AI can change education and the world. 

Tanvi Vidyala

Staff Writer

     Only a few decades ago, artificial intelligence was hardly more than a fantasy found in the dreams of Sci-Fi fans and tech nerds. In recent months, tools like DALL-E Mini and Chat GPT have taken the industry and internet users worldwide by storm. 

     One of the most fascinating AI tools that have come out of the last year is Open AI’s Chat GPT, released in November 2022. 

     “Chat GPT is interesting because it’s a threat to Google because it serves as a mechanism for research. You can ask it questions. You can make it write emails for you. You can give it simple tasks to do, or you can ask it to explain things. In fact, you even can ask it to explain physics problems.” says Meryl Mathew (12), a member of AHS’s Girls VEX Robotics team and a highly experienced programmer.

      Krish Parikh (12) is the President of AHS’s Engineering and Technology club and former Vice President of its subgroup, the AI Club. He expresses his fascination with AI and its implications for the future of humanity. 

     “If you look at the path of technology over human history, you started with many of these industrial machines, which were made to replace human labor with the advent of computing.” He describes how until recently most widely accessible computer software didn’t replace thinking but rather knowledge retrieval. “You have these large data frames that IBM made. You have Google, which allows you to index the internet at your fingertips, but we never exactly like the systems that could do the thing for us.”  

     All of that changed with the dawn of generative AI. “Around a decade ago, deep learning and machine learning became very popular. All of a sudden, we have these tools that think for us.” Parikh explains, “Generative AI is the next step in that we have tools that don’t just retrieve knowledge but actually create solutions.” 

     “I think a lot of the value people associate with human thought is the ability to create. It’s very, very scary because when machines became really good at replacing human labor, the effective cost of human labor came down to zero. So if we continue with this pace of generative AI being able to create for us and deep learning systems as a whole being able to think for us, what happens to the value of human thought, right?” Parikh asks. “It’s a pretty scary idea.”

     “Not to go all techno-fatalist.” Mathew starts, “But programs like this look like they’re on track to taking many lower-level programming jobs. “I’ve tried to program with Chat GPT before, like for personal projects, and it makes a lot of errors, but at the same time, it’s generating code already. At that point, you realize that there’s a lot of progress to be had, but it’s definitely capable of getting there.” 

     The capabilities of AI in the tech industry continue beyond generating code. “I’ve seen videos of people being able to develop UI design based on prompts put into Midjourney,” Mathew says. Midjourney is another program popularized recently and known for its ability to generate all sorts of art based on the user’s input through commands run through the VOIP site Discord.

     Risha Sreedasyam (10) is a student artist who posts her creations on Instagram, with an audience of hundreds. While she uses digital software to help create her art, she maintains a strong position against AI art generators. 

     “I don’t think [AI art] is real because it’s not generated by people. And that’s a big part of what art is.” She touches on a flaw of AI software like Midjourney that use art from the internet to train the precision of the program. “I don’t use [these softwares] because a lot of AI art generators steal art from the internet to use in their engines. It’s just using art from people who worked hard to make it without consent. It’s not very moral.” says Sreedasyam. 

     She also addresses the dangers AI art can pose for industry artists. “For artists who make a living off of commissions, this software is not going to be good. Especially in different industries like animation, artists are hired to design [assets] for the studio. For example, they might start using AI for character design. That’s going to take out so many people’s jobs.” she continues. 

     Sreedasyam believes that a computer can never fully duplicate the intent of art. “I feel a lot of art is what you feel about it. AI steals art from artists who make expressive art and they’re just replicating it, but I don’t think it’ll ever have the same value as making something on your own.”     

      A concern for the education system is that software like Chat GPT can also be used to cheat, thanks to its writing prowess. 

      “I think Chat GPT is capable of writing a lot of a variety of things, not so much very eloquent essays. In general, its writing is somewhat limited, but it can adapt and adjust what it writes depending on what you tell it to. There’s a lot of potential or misuse with students, you know, feeding it prompts or whatever and then trying to pass off the writing as their own.” Mathew says.

     When asked whether she thinks students will use tools like Chat GPT for academic dishonesty, Sreedasyam says, “Definitely, a lot of kids know that there’s an AI that can just do everything for you, and no one’s going to know about it. I think that students will take advantage of it. I don’t think it’s right but I think that that will happen.” 

    Parikh discusses the long-term effects AI can have on the education system in the US. “When the internet was first released to the public, people suddenly had all the information that came with access to Google. Back then, a lot of schools were very worried because all of a sudden, students didn’t have to rote memorize everything because they could search up the answer.” He begins. “However, since then our educational model has moved away from rote memorization. I think you’re gonna have a similar shift in education with these AI tools. Tools like Chat GPT, which can automate and generate English for us may take away our need to brainstorm ideas. It will be bad for schools initially because a central part of many schools’ traditional educational model has been ‘okay, write an essay’ or ‘create a project’ or ‘write a report.’ We’re going to see a shift away from learning that technology is starting to automate, like how we shifted away from rote memorization. Instead, schools will focus on fundamental skills that machines can’t take away but are equally as important in today’s market. So, for example, social skills, critical thinking, or effectively synthesizing brainstorming to help think critically and reason.” 

     Though generative AI is powerful, it’s not without its flaws and still has a long way to go before it can do everything the human mind can. 

     “Right now, I don’t fully trust information from Chat GPT solely because some of it is inaccurate like it’s an AI and it’s still learning. But yeah, it’s a pretty helpful tool, especially if you want to learn about things and do tasks.” Mathew mentions.

     Parikh also remains optimistic that AI won’t overtake the human mind just yet, “Chat GPT runs off, we’re talking, terabytes, maybe petabytes, of data. But if you look at the human brain, we operate on less energy than a light bulb and with far less data than all of the knowledge on the internet. Still, many people have better writing skills than [Chat] GPT. We will see more powerful AI generative tools, but this will not take away human intelligence. Some people predicted that by 2050, we would see artificial generalized intelligence, but my personal bet is that it probably won’t be seen until the next century.” 

     Parikh concludes, “I think, overall, it’ll be a positive benefit until we reach the all-powerful artificial general intelligence that can do everything that we can. I think then we’ll be replaced for good.” He pauses. “But, until then, it’ll definitely help us progress as a species.” 

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