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A place for information about ChatGPT and eventually, policy.

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Helen Cozart

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot system that OpenAI released in November 2022 to show off and test what a very large, powerful AI system can accomplish.  You can ask it countless questions and often will get an answer that's useful.

For example, you can ask it encyclopedia questions like "Explain Newton's laws of motion."  You can tell it, "Write me a poem," and when it does, say, "Now make it more exciting."  You can ask it to write a computer program that will show you all the different ways you can arrange the letters of a word.

Here's the catch:  ChatGPT doesn't exactly know anything.  It's an AI that's trained to recognize patterns in vast swaths of text harvested from the internet, then further trained with human assistance to deliver more useful, better dialog.  The answers you get may sound plausible and even authoritative, but they might well be entirely wrong, as OpenAI warns.

What is the problem with ChatGPT?

There are several significant concerns with ChatGPT.  The first, and probably most important, is that it gets its information from the general internet, which is notoriously unreliable.  Wrong answers are all over Google, usually pretty close to the top of the list of answers.  Imagine the damage this can do with bad medical advice.  Here at Ranger College we expect you to do enough quality research to find accurate answers to your questions. 

Along a similar vein, ChatGPT is subject to bias.  Since it is drawing on the collective writing of millions of humans, past and present, it picks up biases as fact.

ChatGPT does not provide bibliographical information.  This gives you no way to cite the work, making it entirely plagiarized.  ChatGPT does not incorporate journals and peer reviewed material.  This goes back to the quality of the information.  Another issue is that if students attempt to use it to do their work, no learning occurs. 

ChatGPT does not use proper language and grammar.  Again, this is a function of the general internet and the idea that any idiot with a keyboard can post something, no matter how stupid it sounds.

ChatGPT cannot tell between blatantly false information and real information.  Information literacy skills have always been critical.  When someone uses ChatGPT information without verifying the accuracy, false information gains ground even faster.

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