Civil Discourse: College Students Should (Not) Embrace Using AI

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College Students Should Embrace Using AI

Authors: Alleyah Forrister, Eagle Hunt, Makena Westermeyer, and the Civil Discourse Program

About 30% of college students have used ChatGPT for schoolwork this past academic year.  Consequently, many are concerned about how Artificial Intelligence is being used in higher ed. We would like to put some of that concern to rest.

AI is not new and most of us use it every day. As a tool for learning, AI offers clear explanations of complex ideas, boosts productivity, and offers a way to balance the scales of inequality for students.

AI has developed into a tool that supports learning inside and outside of the classroom. ChatGPT can explain concepts in ways that are much simpler to understand than a college professor might explain it. Difficult conceptual topics are minimized to an explanation that makes sense.

AI can also give students a baseline to get started when faced with writer’s block, or a complicated project; it can break down the facts of an article and explain how it relates to you in your everyday life. All of these things are a benefactor to learning. You want to learn how to code? ChatGPT can teach you quickly, efficiently, and for free. AI today is well-tailored to a younger generation to effectively ensure learning, whether or not it relates to a class. 

Additionally, AI helps boost productivity. ChatGPT was used to help brainstorm ideas for this Op-Ed. There are a lot of repetitive daily tasks that can be streamlined and automated by using AI. Coming up with basic ideas to start a project requires significant amounts of time. Using AI, brainstorming is super easy and can provide a good reference point for a project, whether that be chords for a song, unique images for a presentation, or example arguments for why you should use AI in your everyday life. By cutting out time-consuming parts of a project, productivity skyrockets. 

AI also offers a zero-cost tutor. Its accessibility opens opportunities for people who may not have access to tutors, whether it’s due to financial, geographical, or other reasons.  Other online tutoring services often demand a subscription to their website of answers, creating a disparity between students who can afford to pay for such services and those who cannot.  This exacerbates educational inequalities. Websites like ChatGPT offer 24/7 answers, ensuring students can get assistance whenever and wherever they want. It tailors responses to what the user needs and acts as a learning guide that anyone can use.

AI is a revolutionary tool that will expand our capabilities. It has pushed humans to surpass their limits for almost 70 years and has grown to be embedded in our daily lives. For example, Grammarly, a popular spell-check application, is at its core, AI.

While there may be occurrences where students have used AI to cheat, this does not eliminate AI from being a helpful tool that students and non-students can use to learn. Yes, AI has new capabilities that, if used incorrectly, can be detrimental to learning. However, if used properly, AI will help carry us to new heights in almost every field of study.

College Students Should Not Embrace Using AI

Authors: Mackenzie Witnauer, Zion Okano, and the Civil Discourse Program

Artificial Intelligence has the ability to understand, analyze, and interpret information in the same manner as a human. It recently has become highly accessible due to the development of ChatGPT. Many students and teachers are regularly using this technology for their schoolwork. Although there are short-term benefits, in the long term, AI is going to rob many people of the opportunity to develop independent critical-thinking skills.  This will hurt future job prospects and allow more people to be manipulated.

Students are becoming increasingly dependent on AI for things like homework, tests, and decision-making. Many of us often see our friends using ChatGPT and AI resources to get an easy A on their schoolwork. We’re guessing you do, too. Using AI regularly as a shortcut will become a hard habit to break. It can cause people to lose the ability to think and work for themselves. This will set students up for failure in the real world when interacting with others.

In face-to-face communication, a person needs to think on their feet. If a boss or customer asks you a question and wants an immediate answer, AI is not going to be helpful. When a person is negotiating a contract for a job or the purchase of a vehicle or home, the inability to think independently will prove to be costly. ChatGPT can be used as a learning tool, but with all of the stress students face, they will more likely use it to do their work for them. 

AI also has an unprecedented ability to spread disinformation. While it’s true that the internet has its fair share of disinformation, this is something many of us know and prepare for. When researching information, there are ways to check the reliability of what is being said.

In contrast, AI can coherently communicate something without us being able to detect how true it is. Unfortunately, too many people are accepting what AI produces as credible or “good enough” without rigorous evaluation.

An AI algorithm will always have its biases because the people who made it have biases, so there is no way for an objective and truthful AI to exist. Since AI cannot be trusted, it should not be relied on in any situation where the truth matters; which should be every situation in our lives.

The thought of having AI as a resource feels exciting. We get it. However, its ability to cause harm is real and needs to be taken seriously. As college students, we should be taking advantage of the opportunity to develop our abilities to think critically, not use technology to think for us.

In addition to being manipulated and accepting falsehoods without scrutiny, students who are becoming dependent on AI are making themselves vulnerable to future layoffs that will occur due to automation.  The disastrous impacts this phenomenon has had on blue-collar workers and income inequality will soon impact many with white-collar jobs. 

Students need to make sure that AI is something we use rather than something that uses us.

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