a drawing of a brain with mobile devices attached to it

By Xandre Clementsmith ’20, ’21

An artificial intelligence model has earned an SAT score of 1410, putting it in the 89th percentile for math and 93rd percentile for reading. This AI is GPT-4, the next iteration of OpenAI’s large language model that powers ChatGPT, and it has sparked an arms race in education. Students are deploying untested, automated homework bots while professors utilize cutting-edge plagiarism-detection and surveillance software. This widespread adoption of adversarial education technologies hinders student learning and undermines academic integrity. We need to rethink education by integrating AI into the traditional classroom and preparing students for an ever-changing future. 

Instead of starting from scratch, we should work to enhance the existing classroom experience by leveraging AI. Already, ChatGPT is joining with Duolingo, WolframAlpha and Khan Academy to provide a personal tutor for every student in any subject. This experience can be improved by other AI capabilities, such as text to speech for seamless conversation and visual AI systems that can process and generate imagery. However, the benefits aren’t exclusive to students. For every professor, there is a bot that can act as a teacher’s assistant and generate draft lesson plans and homework. 

Yet some professors will be tempted to offload all of their education responsibilities and focus on research. Likewise, students may attempt to use ChatGPT to generate essays and finish their math homework. As AI models continue to improve, there will be a growing inclination to over-rely on technology for critical thinking, creativity and decision-making. Students will need to learn how and when to use artificial intelligence for learning, while educators will need to find a balance between automation and the human touch in teaching. 

Unfortunately, some fundamental changes to education will become necessary as AI continues to advance at such a remarkable pace. The most recent study suggests even existing AI tools have the potential to complete 47% to 56% of existing work tasks. As the modern economy becomes automated, we must prioritize social skills, critical thinking and creativity in our curricula. Education must be valued for its role in human development and fulfillment, not just for its utility in the workplace. This means incorporating tools like discussions, games and storytelling to create an engaging learning environment and ensure that our educational system remains relevant and effective in the age of AI. 

The integration of artificial intelligence in education offers tremendous potential for improving traditional teaching methods and shaping the future of education. To achieve this, it is crucial for educators and students to begin incorporating AI technologies like ChatGPT while also being mindful of the potential risks, such as overreliance and plagiarism. This will require extensive experimentation and refinement. There is no universal approach or solution. Nonetheless, it’s time to embrace the opportunities that AI offers for education and reimagine the way we teach and learn in the 21st century.

A data scientist for the U.S. Air Force, Clementsmith is part of the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program. Independently, he is investigating how the brain’s reward and limbic systems can inspire future AI technologies. (Illustration by Timothy Banks)