How I learned to love ChatGPT

By F. E. Guerra-Pujol, University of Central Florida

Note: This essay is my contribution (sans the Christina Aguilera video) to the next issue of Faculty Focus

Have you heard about the new powerful chatbots cheating genies that Microsoft and Google have recently unleashed? One of these genies is GPT-3 a/k/a ChatGPT, a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) computer program created by the “OpenAI” research lab and launched to the public in late 2022. Among other things, ChatGPT can answer questions, write up a research article, translate a text, generate a blog post, narrate a story, or compose a poem. This program is so powerful that it can even program other computers!

To conjure this genie out of her bottle and make her carry out any one of these tasks, all you need to do is type your command directly into the chatbot. As a result, many students will no doubt be tempted to use these new AI programs to complete their academic assignments, and because these genies are so enticing and because they will only get even more sophisticated and powerful (GPT-4 is scheduled to be released later this year), instructors will have but two options, broadly speaking. One is to resist and fight back against our Big Tech overlords. The other is to “lean in” and join the revolution!

For my part, resistance is futile. This semester alone, for example, I have over 800 enrolled students spread out across five sections in my large business law and ethics survey course. To make matters worse, Big Tech has hundreds of billions of dollars in resources, while I am a mere college professor with a small handful of teaching assistants and a couple of liberal arts degrees. Like the lyrics in the song “Right Hand Man” from the Hamilton musical: “we are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, and outplanned.”

Therefore, instead of trying to fight the inevitable, instead of tilting at these Big Tech windmills, I have decided to allow this dangerous Trojan horse into my courses and accept these AI gifts. Now, moving forward, when I post a discussion question, research problem, or ethical dilemma on Canvas, I will give my students the option of looking up the answer on ChatGPT first–or on Bard, Google’s version of the genie. In exchange, my students will have to post a screenshot of the AI’s answer, cross-check it for accuracy, and make substantives revisions. How they would improve the AI’s answer? What stylistic changes or additions or substitutions would they make? This way, my students will get to work with this exciting new technology first hand, and at the same time, they will have an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills.

What could go wrong?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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