Chat GPT: A New Era in Computers

(update – The IT Director sent me a link with good ideas: https://bfischool.padlet.org/jillianz/ne2eytz0rcg1w1t8

I am fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI) and the new Chat Bot, Chat GPT (Generative Pre-Training). A “chatbot” is a computer program that allows people to have a simulated conversation with the program. Simple chatbots are quite common, for example, a chat dialogue that appears on the screen of a website you visit, or entering voice commands into Siri on an iPhone. Chat GPT is the most sophisticated and user-friendly chatbot to have wide public use. It is data-driven and predictive (conversational) and the GPT is a big jump in complexity from the Siri assistant I use on my phone. It is contextually aware and uses natural-language understanding (NLU) and machine learning (ML) to learn as they go.

The software was developed by a non-profit company called, Open AI. The research laboratory received large donations from Microsoft, Elon Musk and others. They are based in San Francisco and in 2015, decided to go the non-profit route to make sure they are developing AI for the good of humanity. The co-chair, Sam Altman, expects it to surpass human intelligence in the coming decades. The New York Times has a lot of articles on AI and ChatGPT including a good introduction to the technology on its podcast, The Daily, “Did Artificial Intelligence Just Get Too Smart?”.

Of course, my 20-year-old son already has been using it and yesterday morning he helped me get started. I was preparing a script for a holiday message to our school community. Instead of me writing it, I asked Chat GPT to do it with including some basic instructions to reference our school’s Purpose Statement and the importance of relationships. I was amazed at what came back and with a few tweaks and personalizing it a bit more, I had a strong script. I would compare it to someone using a Wikipedia entry to start a research paper, but even more sophisticated. The software has the incredible ability to scour much of the internet and quickly synthesize ideas into a coherent structure. Of course, it is only as good as what is posted on line, so it makes mistakes. I do not see it replacing humans yet and I view it as a tool that can be used as a base to work from, but we will be grappling with ever-improving versions of AI in the next coming years.

I do think this is a really big deal for education, our economy, and the world as a whole. I am going to experiment more with it over this holiday break. I can see why Google is “declaring a code red” for its search business. Why should I bother doing a search for components of a good holiday message when I can just ask the computer to write the speech for me. My son also showed me Open AI’s digital image software, Dall-E 2, a program that creates images from descriptions you can input. I asked Dall-E 2 to create a Monet-like painting of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. As you can see below, it looks like the Tashkent Television Tower in the background and the Japanese Garden in the foreground.

I wonder how K-12 international schools and universities will deal with the technology. I can see students using ChatGPT to help them complete essays, lab reports and other writing assignments. Schools will need to work AI into their honor codes and academic honesty policies. For example, it can come up with a decent International Baccalaureate Extended Essay including a bibliography and in-text citations. I like CNBC Sofia Pitt’s take on the technology, “ChatGPT’s value really lies in its ability to explain complicated topics as if you were talking to a human, and to do simple writing tasks.” I am sure this will not be the last AI post I do this school year.

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One thought on “Chat GPT: A New Era in Computers

  1. Hello Mr. Kralovec from Warsaw, Poland.

    This advancement is huge for us in education. It is absolutely analogous to the iPhone and when the internet / google became generally / easily available to schools. Please know this version of GPT isn’t the good one (version 4 is orders-of-magnitude more accurate). We are 100% at a point of inflection here.

    I teach computer science at the American School of Warsaw, and chatGPT writes (and explains) beautiful code to fairly complicated problems. It’s really amazing. There are also accurate tools where kids take a picture of a math problem and it is solved.

    I remember when google came to schools, we had a genuine crisis – “kids will just look it up online” and “how can they know it is true?!”. We’ve done ok since then, but I believe process-based learning, where the end result isn’t as important as the journey is even more important now. I also believe being able to evaluate the accuracy of the answers we get is increasingly important.

    As for me? I’ll be changing my curriculum so my students can write their own machine learning / AI systems.

    I hope you write more about this; you elevate the discourse about this truly game-changing technology.

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