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When business IT professor Doris Wessels first logged into ChatGPT in early December she felt a “magical moment.” She has been researching the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) language models in the educational field for years. Chatbot ChatGPT was released on November 30, 2022 by Silicon Valley-based company OpenAI, co-founded by Elon Musk among others.

Anyone with internet access can freely interact with the chatbot. Just enter questions or commands in a chat window, ChatGPT answers (almost) everything. One million people signed up to the website within five days. It took Instagram more than two months to pull it off.

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ChatGPT can explain, plan and even argue. Professor Wessels is surprised when she gives the first commands to the artificial intelligence model. According to the very magic of the model is difficult to describe. “You have to try it and experience it for yourself.” British Educational Technology professor Mike Sharples considers GPT-3, a precursor to ChatGPT, to be one of the few “big breakthroughs” he has seen in his 40-year career.

Nevertheless, he worries about the future of education. “GPT democratizes plagiarism,” he says. Students can give the program simple commands to have perfectly written texts for them. A kind of invisible writer. The model can be used to write up to academic texts, for example using the appropriate keywords. Reports of students using artificial intelligence for their work are piling up on the Internet.

ChatGPT can be addictive

According to professor Doris Wessels, German colleges and universities are in danger of being left “behind” as the software industry develops increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems and students learn faster than teachers to use this increasingly intelligent software. . Among other things, social media also offers faster information about things to the younger generations.

Debarka Sengupta heads the Infosys Center for Artificial Intelligence (CAI) at IIIT (Indian Institute of Technology Delhi), New Delhi. The professor fears that the program may become addictive for users. If students no longer learn to write texts and only use ChatGPT, they could become “extremely incompetent and dependent.” To date, however, there are no studies that support his misgivings. This is also due to the short time that has passed since the launch of ChatGP. But both he and other researchers emphasize that plagiarism and fraud have always existed.

Professor Sengupta sees ChatGPT as a mostly positive technological achievement. Like for example one of his students, who is researching the development of cancer for her PhD in biology. As a result, she herself has to analyze a huge amount of data, but she cannot, as she has no previous knowledge of programming. The professor listening to her problem showed her ChatGPT and now she uses it as an auxiliary tool that doesn’t do her job but still helps her really understand programming.

Radical change in the teaching model

As she reports, she now works more independently. “Chatting with ChatGPT is like chatting with a real person. If I had known this before, I could have saved so much work,” he says, while he believes that artificial intelligence will revolutionize the work of other biologists. The PhD candidate expresses her fear that at some point she will no longer be able to use ChatGPT as there will be charges for its use.

There are many opinions regarding the usefulness of Chatbot. Professor Wessels believes that the model can help students with learning difficulties and be a tool of inspiration. On the other hand, the Canadian psycholinguist Daniel Lamety compares the importance of artificial intelligence for academic texts to the invention of the calculator for mathematics, which radically changed teaching. In the same way, he believes that this model will change the way of education without limiting it.

He and other experts point out that the texts of the model do not reflect reality but only the language with which the model was fed. But there are times when what ChatGPT writes is wrong and here lies the importance of the human factor, who has the real knowledge to correct any mistakes. Many universities are already establishing groups and organizing discussions on how to deal with this new phenomenon. ChatGPT presents a challenge for education but also offers opportunities for both students and teachers.