Is Chat GPT the end of thinking skills?

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Chat GPT

Chat GPT has been the talk of the town for the last few weeks. Especially academicians are the ones who are much concerned about the impact of this AI tool. Will this model be good for the education system? Or would it prove to be the most devastating attack on the thinking as well as the decision-making skills of our students?

While thinking about this subject, my thoughts went to the days when the calculation machine – the calculator was invented. Those days, teachers and parents were much concerned about the ability of kids to remember mathematics tables. For that generation of students, it was a matter of pride to be able to orate number tables from 1 to 20. With the invention of calculators, the need for memorizing tables diminished. Examiners changed how they accessed their students’ intelligence and learning ability. The concerns caused by the launch of calculators subsided, over time.

Then came the disruption called Google Search and the era of the internet. This revolution was scarier than that of the calculator. It was worried that this search engine would significantly dent students’ reading and learning habits for some duration, and that happened too. Book sales were reduced, and bookstores worldwide shut down in big numbers. However, with the internet revolution spreading like fire, society evolved into innovative reading solutions like smartphones, kindle etc.

Back then, one prominent concern was that students might develop inertia for learning. They would copy and paste content extracted from the search engine. To diffuse this effect, contemporary academicians evolved advanced methods of student learning evaluation. They stopped asking students to write essays and started giving them reading comprehension passages. They are no more asked to write an essay on some topic but to read a written passage and answer questions pulled out from that. Now comes the era of Chat GPT. For those unaware of Chat GPT, let me tell you that this is an ‘Artificial Intelligence’-based tool and is capable of generating human-like responses. Chat GPT can be used for answering complex questions. In short, while Google Search is focused on helping users find information on the web, Chat GPT provides users with well researched and articulated human-like responses to their text-based queries. Academicians are afraid this invention could be the beginning of the end of human thinking skills! Various universities in India and abroad have already banned Chat GPT on their campuses.

Let us explore the impact this tool can have on our education system

  • Students can get personalized & real-time tutoring which can make them understand complex concepts better and improve their grades.
  • Teachers can use Chat GPT to generate teaching learning content, such as lesson plans and assignments, based on specific learning objectives. This shall result in less workload for teachers and create spare time for them to interact more with their students.
  • If students become overly reliant on Chat GPT, their independent critical thinking and problem-solving skills may deteriorate. Over time, students may lose the ability to think outside the box and generate original ideas.
  • Since human emotions do not play any role in working Chat GPT, complex problems involving human beings might get dis-compassionate solutions. Thus eroding empathy and disturbing human relations.
  •  Not everything which Chat GPT answers would be authentic. This may result in students accepting inaccurate outputs as a basis for making decisions. This could have negative consequences for their education and future careers.
  • Student data fed into the system can render vulnerability, and there could be a severe security risk.
  •  If students rely excessively on Chat GPT for answers and solutions, they may become less motivated to learn independently, thus diluting human intelligence over generations.
  • Academic institutions will have to evolve compatible methods to evaluate students learning gaps and future potentials.

In conclusion, the impact of Chat GPT on the future of education remains a disturbing concern. Especially the thinking skills would be the early victim. At this stage, it may not be feasible to predict exact future complications. However, one thing is sure Chat GPT is not the end of such disrupting technological inventions! Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), Explainable AI (XAI), Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL), Transfer Learning etc., are even much more advanced technologies likely to hit us very soon.

It’s essential to establish the sensible application of technology by all stakeholders, especially in the domain of education, to ensure that it enhances and supports human growth, learning and development. Till then, let us chit chat on GPT and keep experimenting with it.

(The author of above article is Dr. Ajit Varwandkar & article appeared  in “The Times of India” )