ChatGPT is here. Now what?
In late November 2022, the artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the public, simultaneously delivering a clearer picture of the future and a foggier understanding of our place in it.
While the “chat” of ChatGPT is familiar to anyone who’s booked rental cars, reserved airline seats or asked billing questions at the bottom corner of his or her computer screen, the “GPT,” or generative pre-trained transformer, prompted widespread awe.
For the uninitiated, “generative” refers to the software’s ability to “learn” from the data it is fed. It’s reading, crunching and finding patterns in that information, and then sending it back out as insight and solutions, a process comparable to learning to speak a new language after hearing it, reading it and assigning meaning to sounds and words.
“Pre-trained” refers to the data the machine has access to; it’s what the generative part is working off of—the noise that’s shaping the language the program will speak.
“Transformer” is akin to the brain; it’s the architecture that enables the system to take in all that data, process it and then put it back out to us.
Although AI existed before ChatGPT, the allure of interacting with such a coherent, precise and uncannily human model has forced a universal reckoning, especially at colleges and universities.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about ChatGPT’s impact on my program and my job,” notes Xiaoxia Liu, the director of Bay Path’s MS in Applied Data Science program. “My two main concerns are: one, ethical use. It’s crucial to establish responsible guidelines and policies to prevent misuse, especially for class assignments and projects. And the other is how it will affect our students. Generative AI models have the potential to automate certain tasks traditionally performed by a junior data analyst or data scientist, and it may disrupt our graduates’ targeted job markets.”
The true challenge, for higher ed and the workforce writ large, lies in seeking ways to use artificial intelligence productively—to help us navigate information, consider a range of possibilities and lead us toward a broader scope of potential solutions, while keeping one eye focused on its capacity to wreak societal-scale disruption.
Graduate students in Bay Path’s Applied Data Science program have experimented with using ChatGPT and Generative AI to assist with coding questions, demonstrating how AI can enhance the collaborative process. “In ADS534, our Statistical Modeling course, students shared different answers that ChatGPT gave to specific coding questions,” says Liu. “They got different answers based on how they asked the questions, and then these answers were explored in further discussions.”
When we asked ChatGPT to write a song about Bay Path, it took approximately 20 seconds to create this astonishing and accurate rendition:
On a winding path, in a small New England town,
There’s a place of learning where knowledge is found.
A place where dreams are born and futures take flight,
Bay Path University shining bright.
Bay Path University, a beacon of education,
Where women learn and lead with dedication.
With a spirit of innovation and inclusivity,
Bay Path is the place to achieve possibility.
In classrooms and labs, with professors who care,
Students explore, discover and dare.
From business to psychology, health sciences to arts,
Bay Path provides the skills that launch a start.
With a campus that’s green and inviting,
Bay Path is a community uniting.
Empowerment and growth are the goals in sight,
Bay Path University, a place filled with light.
Bay Path University, renowned and true,
We honor and celebrate all that you do.
May you continue to light the way,
For generations of students every day.
Do you want to try ChatGPT?
Simply visit chat.openai.com, and create an OpenAI account. Once you sign in, you can start chatting away with ChatGPT. Get your conversation started by asking a question. And because ChatGPT is still in its research stage, it is free to use and you can ask as many questions as you'd like.