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The New AI Chat Bots: Coming to a Campus or Classroom Near You?

david_myers
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Artificial intelligence—the long-promised computer simulation of human intelligence—has arrived. A striking new example: On December 1st, OpenAI released a chatbot, ChatGPT, that you can play with here.

I was introduced to this by one of my children, a computer systems engineer, who is mightily impressed (and not normally so wow’d by new technology that impresses me). He illustrated with a couple examples of his own:

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In this next example, the Sherlock joke, though wonderful, is familiar. But consider ChatGPT’s answer to the follow-up question:

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Impressive! Then I challenged Chat GPT to write some psychological science. I asked it to write me an essay explaining the difference between classical and operant conditioning. Its response would have merited an A grade from any instructor. Then I reset the conversation and asked it the same question again, and it responded with a new and equally impressive essay.

Then I gave it a harder challenge (seeing if it understands a concept that a respected public intellectual and his editor miscast):

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Kudos to ChatGPT, which grasps that oft-misunderstood psychological concept.

I also wondered if students could ask ChatGPT to improve their writing before handing in a paper:

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The future is here. For ideas on how you can explore and play with ChatGPT, or with OpenAI Playground, Ethan Mollick offers a variety of possibilities here. For crisp synopses of AI's history and future, see here. Or see here how Michelle Huang “trained an ai chatbot on my childhood journal entries" so that she could "engage in real-time dialogue with my 'inner child.'"

And then consider: How might the new AI enable creative thinking? Tutoring? Cheating? Paper or essay grading? Conversing about important topics?

 (For David Myers’ other essays on psychological science and everyday life, visit TalkPsych.com or his new essay collection, How Do We Know Ourselves: Curiosities and Marvels of the Human Mind. Follow him on Twitter: @davidgmyers.)

Image credit: baona/E+/Getty Images

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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see www.hearingloop.org).