Universities must embrace ChatGPT and not fight it, says Cambridge scholar

ChatGPT artificial intelligence software education university technology essay writing - Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Map

ChatGPT artificial intelligence software education university technology essay writing – Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Map

A senior Cambridge University academic has warned that there is no point in banning ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that can write persuasive essays.

Universities and schools are trying to work out how to respond to the software, which can write persuasive essays, pass doctoral exams and write scientific articles.

Some universities are said to have already tried to ban the technology, and students have already been accused of using it to complete assignments.

However, Cambridge vice-chancellor of education Professor Bhaskar Vira said bans on AI software such as ChatGPT are “unwise”.

“We have to recognize that this is a new tool available,” he told Varsity, Cambridge’s student newspaper.

“I think we need to recognize that [AI] it is a tool that people will use, but then adapt our learning, teaching and examination processes so that we can continue to be honest in recognizing the use of the tool”.

Protecting academic integrity

Cambridge is in the process of reviewing its guidelines on AI platforms for departments and students in light of the emergence of ChatGPT, which was released shortly before Christmas. The technology, created by OpenAI in Silicon Valley, is free.

Mike Sharples, emeritus professor of educational technology at the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, previously told the Telegraph that some universities in Britain are already banning the use of ChatGPT.

He said: “Some universities have already banned the use of ChatGPT but it will be very difficult to find out if students are using it, especially if they write a first draft and use it again and then to rewrite or check,” he said.

A Cambridge spokesperson said: “We recognize that ChatGPT is a new tool that is being used around the world. The university has strict guidelines for student behavior and academic integrity.

“These emphasize the importance of a student being the author of his own work. The content produced by AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, does not reflect the student’s own original work and could therefore be considered a form of academic misconduct.”

Schools review chatbot use

Schools are also reviewing whether they need to change homework activities to stop children from cheating. The head of Alleyn’s, an independent school in south London, said ChatGPT is threatening to make traditional after-school essays obsolete.

School leaders have also said teachers will consider “flipped learning”, where students do their research outside the classroom and write more essays in class.

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