Power of ChatGPT
In the last few weeks, Chat Gptpt, the artificial intelligence Chatbot built by OpenAI, has been on an ambitious killing spree. Timelines overflow with eulogies to its victims, search engines, copywriter coders, high school essays, and many more.
Now reports of these impending deaths may be exaggerated. Human beings love to write words this will change everything, only to shrug a year later when this changed very little.
Chat GPT might be a game-changer
Either way, the bot is undeniably impressive. What really sounds is its rhetorical muscle, its ability to generate paragraphs of coherent argument or narrative. Power of ChatGPT
Obviously, there are several million humans to which it can’t hold a candle in this regard, but it instantly hurdled several million others, landing somewhere in the neighborhood of a high school student who’s perfectly happy with a B minus on their Pride and Prejudice book report. 20 years ago, that was my neighborhood.
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If I had access to Chat GPT in 10th-grade English, I would have used it without compunction.
Why waste a perfectly good afternoon scratching out a five-paragraph essay on Austin’s depictions of social class when I could generate this in seconds? In America, we don’t call this cheating. We call it working smarter. Maybe the eulogies are fitting.
Maybe we’ll outsource writing to Chat GPT like we outsourced math to calculators spelling, to spell check memory to the Internet.
To a certain extent, the prevalence of essay writing in school reflects the decline of memorization as a method of teaching and learning, a decline that feels inevitable, maybe even appropriate, in a world where the totality of human knowledge is pocket-sized. Power of ChatGPT
We assign essays because they allow teachers to gauge a deeper understanding in their students. They require more than just recall.
They require a personal synthesis of information, which can’t be outsourced to a machine or couldn’t be until a few weeks ago.
Pretty soon, English teachers are going to get that question math teachers have been getting for decades when will we ever need this stuff in real life? Now bullshit won’t work here. Teens are just too savvy for that.
The truth is that you’ll probably never have to calculate a definite integral once you leave school. And the truth is, we’ll likely outsource many categories of basic writing to AI and never look back.
For other, more complex kinds of writing, you could simply start with Chat GPT, let it provide the basic structure, then edit to your liking.
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Editing, after all, is another way to synthesize information. Maybe ours will become a culture of editors tweakers embellishers. Would that be so bad? Well, the insipid teenage me would probably say no.
But the 34-year-old me, the one who, ironically became a professional essayist, leans the opposite way. The difference between writing and editing is like the difference between writing and reading. Reading is enormously important.
Obviously, it closes the gaps of our ignorance and expands our knowledge. But it does so through the language of others their words, their sentences, their narratives, and arguments. Power of ChatGPT
Editing, too, begins with the language of someone else. In the case of Chat GPT, something else. Of course, to some extent, writing is editing, too. We inherit our language and its rules from culture, from the past.
We express ourselves through a system that we didn’t invent, but that system is so infinitely flexible that we can use it to create structures of our own.
Language is how human beings understand themselves and the world, but writing is how we understand uniquely Not to write is to live according to the language of others Or worse, to live through, edits, tweaks, and embellishments to language generated by an overconfident AI chatbot.
I doubt this argument would convince the teenage me to resist a free magic tool that promises easy grades for less work.
As ever, it’s left to teachers to impassion their students within a system that prioritizes grades over learning.
Often they succeed, but even when they don’t, they still do the heroic work of giving insipid high schoolers like myself basic writing competence.
In my 20s, when I began to wonder who I really was and what I really believed questions that come for all of us, I discovered that writing and structuring language of my own was the only way to find out.
That’s when the foundation teachers worked so hard to give me proved its immense value.
I hope future generations have a similar foundation. One way or another, new writing is on its way from the future to make sense of all of us.
I think we’ll prefer it to be our own.