All across syllabi this fall, professors are warning students of the dangers of ChatGPT, a generative language model-based chatbot that has already garnered over 100 million users worldwide. ChatGPT can finish your Linear Algebra problem set in a matter of minutes. It can write an “original” short story for your Creative Writing class. And it can craft a verbatim Python script for Intro to Computer Science.
Yet while notable figures, from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk to Andrew Ng, have echoed concerns with this technology’s ability to overpower the very humans it was supposed to serve and professors panic over the “existential threat” it poses to scholarly work, I believe ChatGPT should be used in the classroom.
College students have been using ChatGPT to turn in assignments since its inception — reports indicate approximately one-third of college students have used ChatGPT to complete an assignment.
While ChatGPT, and language models in general, may seem limited in early stages, they will continue to learn from themselves and perfect their understanding of what humans are looking for. It seems the chatbot is of nearly limitless value in the academic setting.
Some 5C professors simply don’t acknowledge the existence of ChatGPT. Others strongly advise against using it on the grounds of inaccuracy. But ChatGPT isn’t going anywhere; in fact, it’s only getting more accurate, already outcompeting first and second year medical students on clinical reasoning exams. Banning it isn’t going to do anything.
The increase in online classes and assignments makes it nearly impossible to regulate student use of ChatGPT. Instead, professors should be incorporating ChatGPT into prompts and brainstorming sessions, while encouraging students to rely on their own knowledge for tasks requiring higher-level thinking.
For example, my General Physics professor allows the use of ChatGPT but warns students of its faulty reasoning skills. Its ability to explain concepts at a deeper level allows ChatGPT to serve as an effective “tutor,” helping us grasp class material well. However, it is not always accurate when drawing conclusions and explaining its reasoning — type any higher level math problem into ChatGPT and you’ll see what I mean.
Since ChatGPT is a language-based model, it excels at conversational prompts, meaning it can be used for assistance on menial tasks, a purpose distinct from replacing the higher level thinking that is typically required of humans.
Instead of using ChatGPT as a second brain, I urge students — and professors — to use it as an assistant. According to Forbes, ChatGPT is great as your personal shopping assistant, helping you write an email or preparing for an interview. In this role, ChatGPT epitomizes the efficiency of modern technology by relieving us of tedious tasks.
But what of its existential impact on humanity? My response is: Why try to undermine progress when we can work with it? I use ChatGPT to explain academic concepts and generate fun writing and drawing prompts. In that way, I treat it as a creative friend who has the best ideas. ChatGPT doesn’t have to upend human ideation; it can advance it.
Ultimately, as a fairly new application, there is much research that has yet to be done about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in academia. But as ChatGPT continues to advance, it’s important to adapt and adjust. We’re going to be faced with a lot of problems in the near future – let’s use ChatGPT to help solve them.
And no, in case you are wondering, ChatGPT did not write this article (wink wink).
Joanne Oh PZ ’25 is a biochemistry and sociology major at Pitzer College. In her free time, she likes to have conversations with ChatGPT about the existential threat of AI.