AI and the Future of Scholarship and Education
Oh boy, I’ve started playing around with ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence chatbot, and let me tell you, it is freaking me out. It is able to do basic research tasks extremely well with no discernible proof that it is AI. It is not always perfect, not always original, but it is capable of concise, coherent, and even creative answers. This is way beyond Google and its avalanche of answers, true, false, partly right, and weird. This is a thinking machine that learns from your interaction with it!!!
Let me give you two examples.
First, I set ChatGPT the question: What are the two best arguments for the subjective genitive reading of pistis christou in Paul's letters? Here was the answer:
Second, I asked ChatGPT to write a short poem based on the Johannine Prologue. Here’s the answer:
As you can see those two answers are not brilliant or scintillating, but satisfactory and sound, in terms of content (on pistis christou) and even with some creativity (Johannine prologue). What can we deduce from this?
First, we now have a huge problem with tertiary education assessment. I don’t believe your standard plagiarism software, like Turnitin, is going to pick this stuff up. So if someone is submitting an essay as a Word.doc or doing an online exam, there is now a real possibility that the assessment piece could be generated by ChatGPT and you would have nearly no way of knowing. Even more so if the student cleverly massages the passage to introduce things like footnotes, adds a few lines of their own, and inserts a few deliberate typoes. Will we have to abandon pre-written assignments and online exams in favour of oral exams and in-person hand-written exams? Perhaps!
Second, on scholarship, I can imagine books being written by AI now, especially ones that include basic survey content. I’m pretty sure I could get ChatGPT to write a 25K book on “An Idiots Guide to John Calvin” or “Calculus for Beginners.” This means that certain types of scholarship will either be replaced by AI or else will simply require a human eye to check and correct the content.
Watch this video for an introduction:
In other news, “All Hail Skynet” and I for one welcome our new AI overlord!
What are your thoughts on this? Is ChatGPT the ultimate virtual research assistant or is it going to render so much of teaching and researching as obsolete?