TechSpot means tech analysis and advice you can trust. Read our ethics statement.
A hot potato: Many people and organizations are endorsing the endless possibilities of ChatGPT, but many others are taking a more cautious approach to the new tech. For the New York City education department, the AI-based text generator is being banned altogether.
ChatGPT, the machine learning-based chatbot which is taking the internet by storm, will be persona non grata in New York City public schools. School officials have confirmed that the AI tool will not be accessible through the district network or devices, as they fear students could use it to easily write their essays or to cheat during exams.
According to Jenna Lyle, deputy press secretary for New York public schools, there are concerns about ChatGPT's "negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content."
"While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions," Lyle remarked, "it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success."
New York City is the first major school district to ban the use of ChatGPT on its schools' networks, a pretty remarkable decision considering that the AI chatbot has been available to the public for just a month or so. There are no official statistics about how popular the tool is among students, while officials are clearly well aware of its capabilities in giving relevant (and sometimes correct) answers to complex and even colloquial textual prompts.
Trained with the public internet knowledge available up to 2021, ChatGPT's ML network can write concise answers, mimic (or try to) famous literary styles, and even write entire essays on a specific topic or study subject. OpenAI has clearly created one of the most impressive AI tools available today, so much so that entire industries (especially Google and other search engines) are rethinking their future perspectives and business opportunities.
Despite all that, however, ChatGPT is not "intelligent" at all: simpler answers about factual truths are generally right, while complex or specialized topics could be easily minced and reassembled to generate a formally correct reply, with totally absurd - or false - facts. Darren Hicks, assistant professor of philosophy at Furman University, says that ChatGPT is essentially "a new form of an old problem" with students cheating to pass exams.
In the pre-AI past, said students could pay or get somebody to write essays for them, while ChatGPT can give them an instantaneous and free answer. Furthermore, the AI will just make anti-plagiarism measures harder to implement and use - even though some companies (Turnitin) are trying to improve their detection tools so that they can identify "AI-assisted" text.