There is a before and an after ChatGPT
The AI chat can answer questions, translate, write code, or write an exciting short story. The possibilities fascinate and perhaps worry some, but what is ChatGPT really about?
"The way I see it, the chat bot mainly fulfills two functions; as a coach and as a productivity tool," says Björn Svensson, Director of studies and lecturer in informatics at LUSEM.
Björn Svensson is part of a working group appointed by the university, which will look at the possibilities in teaching, but also give suggestions on how to counter possible ways of cheating that the AI enables. He is fundamentally positive about the development and particularly points out that the students now have a tutor, a coach who is available to them around the clock. ChatGPT provides enormous benefits as that the informatics students can get code written in a few moments, which would otherwise take hours. He is careful to point out that they are still responsible for and expected to be able to answer for everything they submit.
As a demonstration, Björn requests an article comparing stocks with mutual funds. The generated text could be compared to an article in Wikipedia, but then he rephrases his request like this: `Write the text as if it is aimed at an audience consisting of university students and use references to ten scientific articles. The result is impressive.
"There is a before and an after November 30th 2022, when ChatGPT became available. Maybe the time of home exams is over and maybe we'll have to introduce more oral elements, it's too early to say. I am mostly positive about the use and have, among other things, done an assignment where it is forbidden for the students to write anything themselves. All code and documentation must be generated by ChatGPT and in this way the students learn both about the possibilities and limitations of the tool," says Björn Svensson.
He explains that even though you become more efficient and writer's block may become a thing of the past, it is still important to know your subject. The more you know, the better you can specify what you want, or verify that the chatbot responds correctly. Still the AI has several limitations. Although it can do a lot, it is only trained on data until the year 2021. Newer data is lacking, but it still responds. Björn calls it AI confabulation, something that in colloquial parlance would be something likeguesswork. The answers with source references may also need to be checked so that there are actually real articles behind them. Source criticism and knowledge of the subject will thus continue to be decisive for good study results.
Technical innovations have always touched, fascinated and frightened. Will the chatbot take over our jobs? Can we raise the level of ambition in studies/teaching/working life by one or so many percent? In relation to the students, three possible main lines can be pointed out:
1. Banning the use of ChatGPT.
2. A basic assumption that it will be used and therefore give the students tasks where the use of the chatbot is included.
3. Demand that it be used and fully integrate ChatGPT into teaching.
Björn Svensson is convinced that AI will pose more challenges for teaching than is obvious today and that it will have effects on, among other things, examinations. More training for supervisors and teachers will probably also be needed, and a number of webinars from Lund University during the winter of 2023 can be seen as a start.
"We have been given a tool and an opportunity to become better and more productive as informaticists and systems scientists. At the moment, the bot is often overloaded when there are too many people logged in, so it is not possible to fully integrate it into the teaching. However, I already see it as an interesting feature whose opportunities we will get better and better at taking advantage of," Björn Svensson says in closing.