The release of ChatGPT in November 2022 marked the start of a new era in human-AI interaction. ChatGPT is part of what we call generative AI: programs that are able to understand and generate human-like content. This chatbot, created by the San-Francisco based OpenAI, makes generative AI easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. It is safe to say that ChatGPT is the most cutting-edge chatbot ever released to the public, and millions of people are astonished by its capabilities. While some among them -such as teachers- are afraid of how it will impact our society, we should focus on the countless possibilities this new technology provides.
How ChatGPT can level up society
The Associated Press already uses AI in gathering, writing and distributing its news articles. And while their technology makes journalism more efficient, it is accessible only by their staff, and only for their own purposes. ChatGPT is publicly available and can help close the information gap between different classes in society. The most unheard opinions are the ones that are poorly formulated. Less literate participants of society, who might have important opinions but are unable to write a strong, well formulated article to express themselves. Technology like ChatGPT can impact healthcare, creative work, increase accessibility, make resources more widely available and decrease inequality.
With technological advancements, differences in society are a growing concern. ChatGPT can also help reduce the information gap that often exists between individuals of different socio-economic backgrounds. By reducing the information gap and providing equal access to resources, it can help create a more leveled playing field for everyone and reduce the gap between individuals of different socio-economic backgrounds. In the same context, it can provide advice where parents or other family member may not be able to. For example, it could provide financial advice to individuals who might not have access to the resources and support to manage their finances. Moreover, by lowering the bar for creative production, more people can participate in such activities. This could lead to more people being able to express themselves , an increase in general well-being and more creative production in society as a whole.
Additionally, ChatGPT could improve healthcare and reduce workload. By providing reliable and accessible information, it assists healthcare professionals stay up to date in their field with less effort. And as mentioned in a paper in 2023, it can generate (templates for) medical reports based on keywords and information provided by the healthcare professional. In communication with the patient great benefits are possible by providing translation, summarization and additional information for the patient in an efficient manner.
ChatGPT for the individual
Something already prevalent, but substantially increased during the pandemic is loneliness. A paper from 2022 reported that from the people above 65 years old, 28.6 % experienced loneliness during pandemics. A paper from 2017 (before covid) reports 10.5 of the general population experiencing loneliness. Some fear that having artificial intelligence as a conversational companion could lead to social isolation. However, ChatGPT and generative AI can combat this by providing people consistently with a reliable human-like companion. Moreover, Chat GPT can provide information and recommendation to someone who is lonely that can help them connect with others and build social networks. This information could also help in understanding causes and ways to overcome loneliness.
An additional benefit of the adoption and improvement of Chat GPT as a conversational partner is self-awareness. Not self-awareness in terms of a sentient AI, but self-awareness for the people using them. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about and reflect our own thinking and decision-making process. It can for example generate a statement we find offensive or unethical, and thus forces us to think about why we find this offensive. It can also help us identify hidden flaws, bias or general tendencies within ourselves, by reflecting statements made back to us. Additionally, by introducing new ways of thinking and communicating it could result in expanding our understanding of the world. And our place in it.
For the individual there are many other advantages of having generative ai as a companion in everyday life. It can provide us with personalized recommendations, improve our writing and save time on mundane tasks. It can also help with better decision making by providing information and suggesting alternative perspectives and opportunities.
Benefits of using ChatGPT in education
Recently, Antony Aumann, a professor of philosophy at Northern Michigan University, read what he said was easily “the best paper in the class”. It was only after confronting the student that he found out the article was written by ChatGPT. The NYC Education department has already blocked ChatGPT on school networks to prevent students and staff from using it.
We can’t deny that generative AI is going to disrupt our education system. Content generated by ChatGPT is indistinguishable from human-generated content, created with unrivalled efficiency. But instead of prohibiting its use, schools and teachers should learn students how to cooperate with generative AI. It can be used by students to create summaries, generate practice material, or answer questions about study material. Writing a report after conducting research is time consuming. When students are able to outsource tedious writing assignments to ChatGPT, they have more time to focus on actual research. Why educate people to write content, a job that will be obsolete in the near future?
On the other hand, teachers can use ChatGPT to grade assignments, create study guidelines and provide 24/7 personalized support to students. It can even be used in a classical setting. Instead of letting students write and discuss an essay, they could discuss an essay generated by ChatGPT. There is no doubt that ChatGPT could alleviate the current staff shortage in education by reducing the workload.
Every major technological advancement results in the loss of specific jobs. Farm work was mostly replaced by machines Factory labor taken over by robots and human calculators were replaced by computers. We don’t teach people to manually plow lands, since we have machines that perform the same job with much more efficiency. We learn how to live with new technology and use it for our benefit, which creates jobs in new sectors we currently can’t imagine.
ChatGPT has already proven how it can outperform humans in various tasks. Embracing generative AI will benefit us individually and as a society, as it increases efficiency and equality. On a final and personal note, my goal as a teacher in web development is equipping my students with the necessary skills to deliver professional-level code as fast as possible. With too many students and not enough resources and time, I can’t help them all individually with their problems and specific learning paths. ChatGPT as an addition, has been a valuable tool to help solve these problems. Rather than fearing ChatGPT and generative AI and keep it from students, individuals and society, we should embrace it. And change the rubrics on how we evaluate human production and efforts.