Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, online learning has tempted students into abandoning academic integrity. Some familiar programs are Photomath, Quizlet and Socratic, which are designed to help students with troublesome work problems and to assist with studying for the next big exam. Although the creators may have had good intentions while creating these programs, they can easily be viewed as a great threat to academic honesty. Technology is quickly becoming more present in today’s education system; a great shift is seen as many grading systems transition to the all-powerful Canvas — a program where you can communicate with anyone in school, view grades, take exams, carry out homework and plan your schedule. A big question that teachers and administrators ask is, “How can we stop students from cheating?” A remotely assigned exam can be taken with the assistance of our phones that never leave the palm of our hands. Another approach is hopping on a FaceTime call, making a solo test a group effort. In addition, there are tablet devices, physical notes and new Google tabs that are ready to assist when in need of help. As we become more dependent on technology, a new artificial intelligence (AI) system has attracted great attention. It goes by the name of ChatGPT. 

So what even is ChatGPT? It stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. According to Techopedia, this complex program works on machine learning algorithms, which are designed to recognize patterns and rules. Techopedia explains how learning algorithms produce learning models that can be applied on data and generate predictions. Techopedia reports that ChatGPT has been trained on a great amount of data from the internet before the year 2022, and with this source of information, the program is able to carry out natural language generation (NGL) tasks with high accuracy. NLG tasks are a subcategory of artificial intelligence and uses machine learning algorithms to analyze data and summarize it in a way that seems like a human wrote it. As a conversational chatbot, the goal is to simulate a human conversation. What is so unique about this program is its power to quickly produce customized essays, resumes, solutions to math problems and general answers to anything one pleases to ask or order. Any time you have a question or a command, ChatGPT can supply a result in the most efficient manner. 

What are the capabilities and limitations of ChatGPT? According to writer Maxwell Timothy at MakeUseOf, this program can provide creative, original jokes, songs and stories. Along with its creative abilities, it can answer complex questions dealing with topics such as dark matter, and it can even help frustrated students with tricky math problems. A skeptic would expect simple one-lined answers, but ChatGPT goes to impress the public by being able to write full-length essays within seconds. Although the program is highly capable, there are limitations to its ability. According to OpenAI (a non-profit artificial intelligence research organization that was co-founded by Elon Musk in 2015), ChatGPT has been found to “write plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers … The model is often excessively verbose and overuses certain phrases.” The program is constantly modified in order to improve performance. One critical issue that OpenAI discusses is when the chatbot responds to inappropriate questions. In response to these questions, the AI trainers work to make the model refuse such requests, but “it will sometimes respond to harmful instructions or exhibit biased behavior.” ChatGPT has its flaws, but it is also a revolutionary creation in terms of past chatbot AI. 

What does this mean for students applying to college, taking exams, writing essays and carrying out graded assignments in general? In New York City, the education department has banned ChatGPT from all devices and networks in its public schools. A department spokesman, Jenna Lyle, said the ban was based on “concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of contents.” Another issue that arises is that ChatGPT can encourage students to plagiarize and, thus, inhibit the process of learning and growing critical thinking skills. On the other hand, ChatGPT gives opportunities to learn more about artificial intelligence and this new era of complex technology. Teachers and administrators are trying to find ways to work with ChatGPT without compromising a student’s education. Dan Lewer, an educator, proposed a solution of requiring students to submit videos verbally explaining their essays in order to verify authenticity and to grow communication skills. The education system is trying to figure out how to live with ChatGPT, and that can possibly result in more changes in how we learn and write.

What should we do? ChatGPT is foreign waters. There is a possibility for more school systems to regulate or even ban the use of the program. ChatGPT is entertaining to interact with and makes one even more curious about its capabilities. The program can help us brainstorm whenever we feel stuck in the creative department, but it can easily become very dangerous when we plagiarize and claim the work produced by a computer as our own. With how realistic the results are to human-made products, the differentiation of authentic human thoughts and ChatGPT becomes more questionable and blurry.