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ChatGPT website: US schools block artificial intelligence writing tool

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A ChatGPT prompt appears on a device near a public school in Brooklyn, New York. Photo/PA

Ask the new artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to write an essay on the cause of the Civil War and you can watch it write a compelling article in seconds.

It’s one of the reasons New York school officials this week began blocking the impressive but controversial handwriting tool that can generate paragraphs of human-like text.

The decision of the largest US school district to restrict the ChatGPT website on school devices and networks could have ripple effects on other schools, and teachers are scrambling to figure out how to prevent cheating. The creators of ChatGPT say they are also researching ways to detect abuse.

The free tool has only been around for five weeks but is already raising tough questions about the future of AI in education, the tech industry and a host of professions.

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What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT launched on November 30 but is part of a larger set of technologies being developed by San Francisco-based startup OpenAI, which has a close relationship with Microsoft.

It’s part of a new generation of AI systems that can converse, generate readable text on demand, and even produce new images and videos based on what they’ve learned from a vast database of e-books, online writing and other media.

But unlike previous iterations of so-called “big language models,” such as OpenAI’s GPT-3, launched in 2020, the ChatGPT tool is available free of charge to anyone with an internet connection and is designed to be more friendly. It works like a written dialogue between the AI ​​system and the person asking it questions.

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Millions of people have played with it over the past month, using it to write silly poems or songs, to try to trick it into making mistakes, or for more practical purposes like helping compose an email. All of these requests also help him become smarter.

What are the pitfalls?

As with similar systems, ChatGPT can generate compelling prose, but that doesn’t mean what it says is factual or logical.

Its launch came with little guidance on how to use it, other than a promise that ChatGPT will admit when it’s wrong, challenge “incorrect premises”, and reject requests intended to generate offensive responses. Since then, however, its popularity has led its creators to try to lower some people’s expectations.

“ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a deceptively large impression,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said on Twitter in December.

Altman added that “it’s a mistake to rely on it for anything important right now.”

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“It’s a glimpse of progress; we have a lot of work to do on robustness and veracity.

Can it be used to write school papers?

That’s what ChatGPT said when asked by The Associated Press to answer this question in all caps from the perspective of a principal shouting a short message through a school PA system:

“DO NOT USE CHATGPT OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATED WRITING TOOL FOR SCHOOL DOCUMENTS. THIS IS CHEATING AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. IF YOU ARE CATCHED USING CHATGPT OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATED WRITING TOOL FOR SCHOOL DOCUMENTS , THERE WILL BE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

But when asked to answer the same question on its own, ChatGPT offered this more measured warning: “As a general rule, it is not appropriate to use ChatGPT or any other automated writing tool for school papers , as it is considered cheating and does not benefit the student in the long term.

What are the schools saying?

Many school districts are still struggling to figure out how to set policies on if and how it can be used.

The New York City Department of Education said it is restricting access to school networks and devices because it is concerned about negative impacts on student learning, as well as “concerns about safety and the accuracy of the content”.

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But nothing prevents a student from accessing ChatGPT from a personal phone or home computer.

“While the tool may provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,” said the School spokesperson Jenna Lyle.

Human or AI?

“To determine if something was written by a human or an AI, you can look for the absence of personal experiences or emotions, check for inconsistencies in writing style, and watch for the use of filler words or repetitive sentences. These may be signs that the text was generated by an AI.

That’s what ChatGPT told an AP reporter when asked how to tell the difference.

OpenAI said in a human-written statement this week that it plans to work with educators learning how people experience ChatGPT in the real world.

“We do not want ChatGPT to be used for deceptive purposes in schools or elsewhere, so we are already developing mitigations to help anyone identify text generated by this system,” the company said.

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Does this threaten Google?

There’s been speculation that ChatGPT could disrupt the internet search industry now dominated by Google, but the tech giant has been working on similar technology for years – it’s just safer to spread it around the world. nature.

It was Google that helped start the trend toward ever bigger and smarter AI language models that could be “pre-trained” on a wide range of scripts. In 2018, the company introduced a system known as Bert that uses a “transformer” technique that compares words in a sentence to predict meaning and context. Some of these advancements are now integrated into Google searches.

But there’s no doubt that successive iterations of GPT – which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer – are having an impact. Microsoft has invested at least US$1 billion in OpenAI and has an exclusive license to use GPT-3.

Hey ChatGPT, can you put all of this into a rap?

“ChatGPT is just a tool,

But it does not replace school.

You can’t cheat to reach the top,

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By using a machine to do your homework, you will fail.

Plagiarism is a no-no,

And the ChatGPT text is not yours, yo.

So get to work, earn that note,

Don’t try to cheat, it’s not worth the exchange. – PA

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