Universities should embrace ChatGPT, not fight it, says Cambridge academic

ChatGPT artificial intelligence software education university essay writing technology – Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A senior academic at the University of Cambridge has warned that there is no point in banning ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot capable of writing compelling essays.

Universities and schools have scrambled to figure out how to respond to software, which can write compelling essays, pass medical exams, and write scientific papers.

Some universities are said to have already tried to ban the technology, and students have already been accused of using it to complete assignments.

However, Professor Bhaskar Vira, Cambridge’s vice-chancellor for education, said bans on artificial intelligence software like ChatGPT are not “sensitive”.

“We have to recognize that this is a new tool that is available,” he told Varsity, the Cambridge student newspaper.

“I am of the opinion that we have to recognize that [AI] it is a tool that people will use, but then we will adapt our learning, teaching and testing processes so that we can continue to have integrity while acknowledging the use of the tool.”

Protecting academic integrity

Cambridge is in the process of reviewing its guidelines on AI platforms for departments and students in light of the emergence of ChatGPT, which launched just before Christmas. The technology, created by OpenAI in Silicon Valley, is free.

Mike Sharples, emeritus professor of educational technology at The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, previously told The Telegraph that some British universities are already banning the use of ChatGPT.

He said: “Some universities are already banning the use of ChatGPT, but it’s going to be very difficult to detect if students are using it, particularly if they write a first draft using it and then rewrite or revise it,” he said.

A Cambridge spokesperson said: “We recognize that ChatGPT is a new tool being used around the world. The university has strict guidelines regarding student conduct and academic integrity.

“These emphasize the importance of a student being the author of their own work. Content produced by AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, does not represent the student’s original work and would therefore be considered a form of academic misconduct.”

Schools review the use of the chatbot

Schools have also been reviewing whether they need to change homework activities to prevent kids from cheating. The headmaster of Alleyn’s, an independent school in south London, said ChatGPT threatens to make traditional after-school rehearsals obsolete.

School leaders have also said that teachers will consider whether to do more “flipped learning,” where students do research outside of the classroom and write more essays in class.

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