Within the past year Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been made accessible to everyone. The newest AI invention is ChatGPT with the ability to create human-like responses, encrypt hours worth of code in minutes, and much more. Considering this, what is the future of HU and the world going to be like?

By Sarah Disbro | Contributor

It’s as simple as signing up for a new social media platform. You Google “ChatGPT,” click on the first link, hit “try ChatGPT,” enter and verify your email and phone number, create your password. And boom. From a couple clicks of your keyboard you have free access to a new AI platform called ChatGPT.

Professors at HU have had to re-think learning, assignments, and what counts as cheating. Students have researched AI use at HU and if students are cheating.  

I even used AI to write a paragraph in this article.  

After signing up, all you have to do is give the AI a prompt to follow.  

For example I typed the following prompt into the chat box: “Write an intro paragraph for a news article about how ChatGPT works.” 

Three loading dots came up and five seconds later, the answer: 

HUMAN OR AI?: Next to the yellow icon is the prompt I gave ChatGPT. The green icon shows the response I got, which I used in this article. (Photo by Sarah Disbro)

“ChatGPT is an advanced language model developed by OpenAI, based on the GPT-3.5 architecture. It is a machine learning model that can generate human-like responses to text-based inputs, making it capable of conversing with users in a natural and intelligent manner. ChatGPT’s ability to understand and generate text at a human-like level has made it a powerful tool in various fields, from customer service to education and research.”  

HU seniors, Kayli Iorio, Amber Elliot, and Austin Rader researched students at the high school level, at nearby Huntington North High School, and at Huntington University on the likelihood of different groups using ChatGPT to cheat.  

Iorio said her group’s research concluded that those who were more likely to use ChatGPT to cheat included students who do not have motivation to do well in school and those that self-reported academic dishonesty in the past.

“We also found that athletes were about 20 percent more likely to use ChatGPT to study rather than non-athletes,” said Iorio.  

Dwight Brautigam, a professor of history at Huntington University, said he has not caught students using AI for assignments, but has suspected it has happened.  

The threat of students using ChatGPT has caused Brautigam to re-think some of his assignments.  

“The presence of AI has made me more conscious of the essay topics I assign, and how I structure them,” said Brautigam. “It won’t affect my grading that much since I place a significant value on participation in my active classes.”  

Brautigam believes it is important for professors to establish relationships with students face-to-face. He said that makes it harder for students to cheat, rather than a student being taught online.  

Becky Benjamin, a professor of psychology at HU, said she too has changed her final exams and papers in one of her classes to combat ChatGPT use. Benjamin said she knows students will use ChatGPT. She also thought that those that use it to cheat will have to deal with the  effects of not getting a true college education.  

“Having ‘easy ways out’ of the hard work of learning and practicing things (like practicing your writing or pulling important themes from a text),” she said in an email interview, “means that the neural connections from that learning are never made.”  

Benjamin said those that take the easy way out will lose out on the struggle of learning new ideas and concepts, and as a result their college education will be poorer.  

CLICK OF A BUTTON: The home page of openai.com, where you sign up for ChatGPT. (Photo by Sarah Disbro)

“There will never be an easy path to maturity it is necessarily hard because it’s dealing with hard things that leads to the maturity itself. So—whether it’s academically dishonest or sanctioned by a professor—if a student fails to have numerous opportunities to struggle with difficult, frustrating, and even mundane tasks, they will be poorer for it.  

Benjamin, on the other hand, has had her students embrace using ChatGPT for research purposes.  

“I’ve only had my students in my research classes use AI (i.e., ChatGPT) in order to get to know it,” she said. “This semester I have four groups of students who have been conducting research related to ChatGPT and student (both HS and college) attitudes toward it. I also have another group that actually did some research testing ChatGPT compared to Google for getting factual information.”  

Benjamin said her reasoning behind having students research ChatGPT is so they can better understand the program and how it works. This way, students will be able to use ChatGPT like a search engine, such as Google. Instead of using the program to cheat, Benjamin wants AI to become a new tool for students.  

Adam Hammett, a professor of mathematics at Cedarville University, spoke at February’s Forester Lecture. He is teaching an honors course on AI at Cedarville. He said the site’s responses all come from a database of information.  

AI EXPERT: Adam Hammett, a professor of Mathematics at Cedarville University, is teaching an honors course on AI. (Photo from the Cedarville University website)

“At present, it has access to a fixed database of information from which it draws its responses, so it is not ‘dynamic,’” said Hammett in an email interview. “But eventually that will change: the database will grow and ‘learn’ dynamically with the internet, and it will have access to anything on the internet (and perhaps even more).” 

According to OpenAI’s website, the database contains information until the year of 2021. 

AI research first began in 1955. Between then and the late ’90s, AI had experienced new advancements, but it began to slow until recently.  

In 2015, OpenAI was founded by a group of researchers to further Artificial Intelligence. One of the founders was Elon Musk.

By 2018, AI performed better than humans on tests recognizing images, hand-writing, speech, and much more.

By November 2022, ChatGPT was released by OpenAI to the public.  

Just recently, in March of 2023, OpenAI launched ChatGPTPlus — a paid version of ChatGPT — which guarantees users access to the site when there is heavy traffic. Due to the high demand of the free version of ChatGPT, users reported being kicked off. 

On the impact of college, Brautigam does believe there will be changes.  

“I think AI will affect colleges and universities in some pretty significant ways, both in the areas of assignments, teaching and learning, etc., and also in the kinds of majors that colleges offer,” said Brautigam. “Some career-oriented majors are going to change significantly as AI will eliminate or drastically change the ways people work.” 

Hammett said the use of AI comes down to ethics.  

“We are required to steward creation (Genesis 1-2),” he said in the email interview. “And it’s not wrong to leverage something like ChatGPT to help us more efficiently carry out this divine command, but we’d better not use this as a way to ‘get out of’ this privileged task. There’s a balance to be had here, to be sure.”  

This new technology is continuing to be developed. Many are experiencing it for the first time. There could be new advancements made by society, Hammett believes. 

“I think there will even be new industries, and opportunities that we aren’t even thinking about right now that will help to promote human flourishing,” he said.  

Both Brautigam and Hammett agree that the future of AI depends on the intentions behind our usage of it.  

Hammett said: “I think both ‘hindrance’ and ‘progress’ are possible, but it really depends on our approach.”  

“I think AI, like any other tool, can be both helpful and harmful,” said Brautigam. “It is going to depend a lot on how people use it, how professors incorporate it and accommodate its use in their classrooms and especially in assignments.”