In recent years, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) has given rise to innovative tools and applications with the potential to revolutionize multiple aspects of our lives. One such technology that has garnered attention is ChatGPT. Its expanding capabilities are sparking many discussions about how it can and should be used in education and the workplace.
“As with any new technology, there are mixed opinions regarding AI and ChatGPT and its usage,” says Andrew R. Reitnauer, a professor in the Criminal Justice programs at South University and a Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst with 25 years of experiences working in criminal justice. Outside of teaching college courses, Reitnauer is CEO of Delta Forensics, where he offers expert case consultations and forensic training and continuing education services.
“While there has been discussion in articles and forums, especially from K-12 levels, that ChatGPT should be encouraged as a technology tool for the future, there is also a counter-argument,” Reitnauer explains. “ChatGPT may be able to provide facts and objective evidence, but technology cannot replace the adaptive thought processes of human thinking.”
Potential Benefits of Using ChatGPT at Work or School
1. Personalized Assistance
ChatGPT can offer immediate assistance to students and professionals. It can help answer questions, provide explanations, and clarify concepts in real-time for people with different types of learning styles and needs. It can also help you to get started on a piece of work when you’re feeling stuck. While it is not a replacement for doing independent research or writing or for talking with an instructor, manager, or other subject matter expert, it can be a useful addition to your toolset.
2. 24/7 Availability
One advantage of ChatGPT is round-the-clock availability. Students or employees can access information and seek assistance at any time, making it convenient for those with varied schedules or time constraints.
In the workplace, ChatGPT can serve as a valuable tool for quick problem-solving. Employees can use it as a fast and easy starting point for finding solutions, troubleshooting technical issues, or looking up best practices.
Key Concerns around ChatGPT Usage
1. Accuracy and Bias
While ChatGPT is designed to provide accurate information, there is a real risk of misinformation or incorrect responses. The AI's responses can also reflect biases that exist in the data it’s been trained on. Relying on AI could inadvertently perpetuate inaccuracies if you don't critically evaluate the information you receive.
2. Dependence on AI
Another concern is overreliance on AI for information and problem-solving. If students look solely to ChatGPT rather than developing their critical thinking skills and ability to research independently, this will have a negative impact not only on their academic performance but also their future career. Individuals in every field must be prepared to assess and respond to a wide variety of situations. They need to know how to apply their knowledge, skills, ability, training, and intuition to react appropriately to the circumstances as well as to articulate their reasoning.
“One paramount requirement that must be learned during the education process, is the importance of being able to answer ‘Why?’,” says Reitnauer. “Law enforcement must discuss their decision-making processes. Legal counsel and paralegals weigh evidence, respond to witnesses and make legal arguments. Forensic scientists and CSIs must be able to apply and articulate examinations and conclusions. While their roles may have differences, they all share a similarity—the ability to respond as an expert.”
3. Diminished Human Interaction
Overuse of AI could lead to fewer human-to-human interactions. Interpersonal skills, collaboration, and emotional intelligence could suffer as a result. However, these skills are vital for professionals, especially as people seek to grow and expand their professional careers. Individuals need to have strong communication and collaboration skills to work effectively with colleagues, managers, customers, patients, or whoever they encounter in their role.
4. Privacy and Data Security
ChatGPT users may share potentially sensitive information with a third-party AI system without thinking about the implications of doing so. This raises concerns about data privacy and security for individuals and organizations alike.
Striking a Balance that Benefits Students and Professionals
The use of ChatGPT is already widespread and something that shouldn’t be ignored. As we consider how ChatGPT best fits into our lives, we should not look to it as a replacement for human interaction or critical thinking. Instead, it can be used as a supplement to enhance the learning and problem-solving processes. To strike a balance, schools can:
- Educate students on AI’s potential uses and limitations, encouraging them to cross-reference and critically examine any information AI provides
- Continue to focus on developing students critical thinking, reasoning, and analysis skill
- Ensure that students are prepared to do independent research and writing
- Encourage the development of interpersonal skills through group discussions, team projects, mentorship, and more
- Make sure that individuals know the risk of sharing information with AI systems
“The use of AI methods may act as a starting point to retrieve information, but students must be able to articulate their knowledge through written assignments, presentations, and projects that require opinions and defending the thought processes integrated,” Reitnauer asserts.
By taking a balanced approach that combines AI assistance with human interaction and critical thinking, students, educators, and professionals can harness the benefits of AI while mitigating the risks to its users.