AI bot that can do schoolwork could 'blow up' US education system, with youngest at most risk: former teacher

AI bot that can do schoolwork could 'blow up' US education system, with youngest at most risk: former teacher

The emergence of artificial intelligence chatbots that can complete students’ assignments will lead to a crisis in learning, forcing educators to rethink schooling entirely, a former teacher said. 

“The introduction of new artificial intelligence technologies into schools that enables students to auto-generate essays has the capacity to blow up our entire writing education curriculum,” Peter Laffin, founder of Crush the College Essay and writing coach, told Fox News. “It may make us have to rethink it from the ground up, and that might ultimately be a good thing.”

Last week, tech company OpenAI unveiled an AI chatbot, ChatGPT, which has stunned users with its advanced functions. The language model can automatically generate school essays for any grade level, answer open-ended analytical questions, draft marketing pitches, write jokes, poems and even computer code.

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The internet is swirling with predictions about how this sophisticated technology could impact several industries and render countless jobs obsolete. But at the forefront of Laffin’s concern is the impact it will have on education. 

“I do believe that students will be able to use this technology undetected to complete assignments,” he told Fox News. “It’s going to be increasingly difficult for teachers to be able to tell the difference.”

Laffin said younger students in particular are at risk of losing the most to chatbots. So, too, will inner-city schools with lower teacher-to-student ratios, where instructors are less familiar with their students’ work, making it harder to detect the use of AI

“The more easily available this is for younger students, the more problems this will create,” Laffin told Fox News. 

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A mock essay prompt inputted into OpenAI's ChatGPT shows student's as young as middle school age can take advantage of this new technology.

A mock essay prompt inputted into OpenAI’s ChatGPT shows student’s as young as middle school age can take advantage of this new technology. (OpenAI)

College students using ChatGPT to complete busywork assignments will be disrupted less because “you are already at a level of sophistication where you understand the content,” Laffin explained. But if younger students use AI for an assignment like writing a history paper, “you’ve not only cheated on a writing exercise, you’ve also cheated yourself out of learning the history.”

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The artificial intelligence-powered ChatGPT garnered global interest and exceeded 1 million users in less than a week. It’s also the first time a high-level AI text generator with a user-friendly interface has been made available to the public for free. 

Former English teacher, Peter Laffin, said teachers must get to know their students writing styles and rework assignment formats to prevent the abuse of ChatGPT in their classrooms.  

Former English teacher, Peter Laffin, said teachers must get to know their students writing styles and rework assignment formats to prevent the abuse of ChatGPT in their classrooms.  

“The fact that this might cause a crisis in education might ultimately be to our benefit,” Laffin said. “Because writing is something that we just don’t teach very well.”

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The writing coach recommended teachers evolve their assignments and move away from traditional five-paragraph essays. They should instead create more innovative models of teaching, he said.

“The practices in schools always seem to lag behind a little bit what the latest technology is,” Laffin told Fox News. “You can always be sure that kids are going to be one step ahead of the teachers, so there needs to be a lot of vigilance on this.”

To watch Laffin’s full interview, click here