ChatGPT: The AI Study Buddy – Convenience or Compromise?

By Ranya Merchant — Editor-In-Chief

From writing essay questions to finding errors in code, ChatGPT has become a go-to study companion for many students. But as reliance on AI chatbots grows, concerns have spread that these critical thinking skills are being exchanged for convenience.

ChatGPT is an AI-based language model developed by OpenAI that uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses to textual prompts. Following its groundbreaking release to the public last November,  the website receives an estimated 13 million daily visits and has a projected revenue of $1 billion.  Its many capabilities include language translation, text summarization, question-answering, and content generation — making it an ideal tool for resolving lingering curiosities or completing futile assignments on the fly. 

Senior Elizabeth Xu says that when her sister first introduced her to the program as a quick way to debug code, she was amazed. “I’d never encountered a machine that can do stuff like this. It’s still so crazy to me that I can type in something and it just understands exactly what I’m saying,” said Xu. 

Like many students, Xu says she uses it mostly to summarize new topics or excessively long material. “It’s a helper right there for you. I’ll just ask it a general question and it’s good at giving me a quick summary,” she said.

Computer Science teacher Dr. Kenner says the model lacks the originality that human effort provides. “It’s not coming up with anything novel in a true sense. It is strictly, only, predicting the word that has the highest accuracy of being human English in a conversation. What’s the most likely next word? That’s it,” said Kenner.

“Of course, you can do amazing things with that prediction,” she added.

Senior Rohan Shah says the model interests him but is not yet advanced enough to complete schoolwork alone. “It’s able to generate unique outputs, but I don’t think it’s useful in plagiarism or academic dishonesty. From what I’ve seen the writing is not impressive at all. Frankly, it doesn’t have any soul and its analysis is really basic.”

“I think if you submitted a Chat GPT paper, you’re just going to get a bad grade because it’s going to be a bad paper,” added Shah. 

Xu is a captain of the SHS debate club and says that while the program can be an effective starting point for case research, she has seen high school debaters rely on Chat GPT to construct entire arguments during rounds. “When we’re first starting off with a topic, it’s really easy to get quick information from it. It’s a starting point. But, now, people can search up rebuttals in rounds instead of coming up with it themselves,” said Xu.

“Before, you would manually search things up, find arguments, and piece them together. Now it’s like, you just ask simple questions like ‘help me respond to this thing that they’re saying’ and it does it for you. What’s the point of the analytical aspect of debate anymore?” she added.

Kenner says that while asking Chat GPT to code a simple java algorithm, she received an incorrect output and had to manually point out its errors. “It can’t code better than a freshman in college. I finally had to tell it, your code does not work for this case,” said Kenner.

Chat GPT-4, the most recent version of the model, has recently been tested through law and business school exams, producing promising results. 

The figures from GPT-4’s test scores were shared on March 14 by OpenAI, revealing it can also convert image, audio and video inputs to text in addition to handling “much more nuanced instructions” more creatively and reliably. 

“It passes a simulated bar exam with a score around the top 10% of test takers,” wrote OpenAI. 

GPT4’s score would put it in a good position to be admitted into a top 20 law school and is only a few marks short of the reported scores needed for acceptance to prestigious schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or Yale.

Xu says these figures make her question the soundness of higher education. “Sometimes I think, what’s the point of getting a degree? At this point, if AI can pass a bar exam or get perfect scores on college level exams, what’s the point?” said Xu. 

“On one hand, I think yes, it will help a lot of people and will lead to a lot of growth and innovation, but at the same time I’m like will my job be a job in the future? Will I have to be more educated — more specialized in order to even get a job? I feel like AI is taking over the unspecialized jobs that people who might not have a Masters degree can have right now,” she added. 

Senior Jasmine Boyd says Chat GPT’s ability to pass college-level tests does not indicate that AI will replace human thinking. “Exams are dumb, they don’t really prep you for the real world. I don’t think chat GPT could be a very good lawyer,” said Boyd. 

“It’s a positive and negative thing. For example, if you are stuck on something or don’t understand a concept, you can just ask Chat GPT to explain it for you. At the same time, it can be used to not understand the material at all and let it do all the thinking for you,” said Xu. 

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