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Will Rice adapt to AI or be left at its mercy?

Photo courtesy Bradley Ramsey

By Bradley Ramsey     1/31/23 10:53pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a form of artificial intelligence technology that has been growing in popularity amongst students, especially those in academia. Rice University has seen a recent surge in students utilizing ChatGPT to help them in their coursework, raising questions about its usefulness and appropriate usage. 

The popularity of GPT as a tool for completing assignments has grown due to its capability to generate high-quality, persuasive writing. It assists students in quickly producing academically sound papers at a much faster rate than if they were to complete the project on their own. GPT can also be used to effectively research topics and generate quality citations. As such, ChatGPT has become an attractive choice for students at Rice University who are short on time and need to quickly finish an assignment. 

Yet, there is also the potential for abuse of this technology, as some students could potentially use it for plagiarism or for submitting papers that are not their own work. As such, it is important for Rice University to consider how it can respond in order to maintain academic integrity. 

One response to this dilemma could be for the university to require students to disclose their usage of GPT when submitting assignments. This would allow the university to keep track of the use of GPT and easily recognize if a student is relying on it too heavily. However, such a policy could dissuade some students from using GPT and lead to a less efficient use of the technology. 

Another potential response is for the university to develop a system to detect and flag any suspicious use of GPT. This could be done by creating a system that detects any potential signs of plagiarism or unoriginal work, such as particular phrases or language patterns. While this could be effective in identifying students who are attempting to abuse the use of GPT, it could also unfairly penalize students who are simply utilizing it to its full potential. 

In the end, Rice University must come up with a feasible solution that prioritizes both academic integrity and students’ learning. To this end, the university should consider developing a well-defined policy that outlines the proper usage of GPT and making sure to provide adequate resources to help students in understanding and appropriately using the technology. 

Ultimately, the challenge for Rice University lies in finding the right balance between preserving its academic standards and allowing students the opportunity to benefit from the use of GPT. With the right approach and resources, the university should be able to develop an effective response that takes into account the needs of both students and faculty.

With the seemingly distant future approaching faster and faster everyday, students, staff and the Rice administration must keep pace. It may surprise some readers to discover that this entire article besides these final two paragraphs was created with the GPT-3 AI by the company OpenAI. The entire article was written using the simple prompt, “Write an article debating the usage of chat gpt by students at rice university for classes, and how the university should respond to the usage of chat gpt.”

This is a powerful example of how this type of AI can be used inside and outside of the classroom. I am by no means a coder, and within a few minutes of trying prompts I could create an entire article. In fact, after using the AI to complete this article, I made two separate cover letters using it. With all this being said, this is a growing technology, much like the early days of Google, and just as universities adapted to Google, they will need to adapt to AI. The question everyone at Rice must ask is what will that adaptation look like?

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