Artificial Intelligence gains popularity, BYU community discusses potential to be campus tool

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Artificial Intelligence software is continuing to improve since its release, and professors, students and writers are determining how to best use it in the academic world. 

ChatGPT was given the prompt, “Tell me about Brigham Young University”. The AI software can produce any type of written text. (openAI.com)

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, was first released Nov. 22, 2022 and has continued to be updated with its latest update, ChatGPT-4, released on March 14 this year.

“We’ve trained a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests,” the OpenAI website reads. ChatGPT currently only generates text, but other AI platforms have image generators.

Katie Watkins, associate manager and coordinator of multi-lingual writing at the BYU Research and Writing Center, said ChatGPT AI is something that she and the management team have talked about a lot.

“Writing is definitely going to be an area that will be really impacted by it,” she said. She said the Research and Writing Center is asking “what will ChatGPT affect, and how can we adapt so that we’re able to work with ChatGPT and with students instead of trying to … work against it?”

BYU junior Ellie McLean said, “One of my professors told us to use (Chat GPT) to get a summary on a research topic rather than looking it up and googling it.” She said her professor said it would be more efficient and accurate enough to save time on their assignments. 

Watkins said websites have popped up claiming to be AI detectors, but with just a little bit of testing, she has already seen that they are not perfect. Watkins said she has noticed ChatGPT will occasionally make errors in citations, but other than that it can be really difficult to identify when a paper is created using the AI platform.

The Walton Family Foundation released a study indicating that 51% of teachers had used ChatGPT and 40% reported using it at least once per week. The website also states that 71% of teachers and 65% of students agree ChatGPT will be a tool for student success in college and the workplace. 

“In some ways, I think that the whole idea of academic integrity will become more important because it will be more personal,” Watkins said. “The idea of integrity isn’t just something you do so you don’t get caught, or so the output … is good. It’s also something that will facilitate your own learning and your own growth on an intellectual level and on a spiritual level.”

Pew Research Center polled Americans on their views of different AI applications. Some people view artificial intelligence as a major advance. (Pew Research Center, Washington D.C.)

Pew Research Center recently did a study about nine different AI platforms and American’s view of their usefulness. The website said, “While public awareness of these AI applications is limited, the survey finds that Americans make clear distinctions about the value they see from these developments.”

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