Did an AI Write This Blog?
Over the past several months, ChatGPT has taken the techie world by storm. We have all seen bits on social media of “I asked ChatGPT to tell me about XYZ, And here is what it said.” This is followed by the amazingly accurate and human responses they get. If you have not tried it yet, you need to go get an account and test it out. Do it now, or do it when you are done reading this blog, but you absolutely have to take the time to do it. To log in you can go to: https://chat.openai.com/chat. You will be required to either log in or set up an account. It is also quite likely that you will be told the system is busy and that you need to wait. As technology managers in the higher education industry, you need to immediately have an understanding of ChatGPT. One warning, though: It can get amazingly addictive as you think of the various things to ask it, and the high quality of the responses you get. ChatGPT, which stands for Generative Pre-training Transformer, is an AI system that is designed to give human-like responses to questions that are asked of it. The tool has been in development for several years but was made widely available for testing by the public in November 2022.
Technology managers in many colleges and universities around the country work in the IT department. So faculty will naturally turn to you with questions about the application. While there are a wide variety of ethical questions about how this tool will work in education, I will leave most of those to the academics who are professionals in the field and have a daily stake in how and what their students learn. An interesting story in the New York Times
addresses the issues that colleges and universities are going to have to deal with. It is clear, however, that the horse is out of the barn here. Faculty will need to learn to deal with this tool and change the way that they teach and assess students.
One of the interesting pieces that I have not seen widely discussed, however, is the technical ability of the tool. Try asking the tool to write code for you. For example, we do a lot of work with our podium computers. Some of the team are experienced in PowerShell, but not necessarily experts. So, we can ask the AI to write a PowerShell script to remotely reboot a computer, tell me who the last person to log in was, etc. I have tried to request it to write scripts, both easy and complicated, for several different programming languages, and it does it quickly and accurately. It also includes a button to click to copy the code that it just wrote. According to the application, this includes programming in Crestron and Lutron. I asked the application to write an application that will turn a projector on and lower the screen, and it popped out code a few seconds later. Whether the quality and standards meet the specifications of your college, is for you to decide. However, for a programmer who is expected to be using their time efficiently and in the best interest of the college, it is clear to see how getting a head start on new programming with the use of this tool is a benefit.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about ChatGPT is how accurate, effective and easy to use it is considering the tool was only made widely available in November of 2022. Microsoft has already invested 3 billion dollars in OpenAI, the company that owns ChatGPT. While this money has paid for development, it also has been used to provide the massive computing support that is needed for the AI tool to run. It is estimated that it currently costs $100,000 per day. ChatGPT is currently open for free as a way for the developers to get feedback on how it works in the real world. Microsoft is in talks with OpenAI to invest another 10 billion in the company to further develop the tool.
As technology professionals, we see a large number of new technologies that we think are “game changers” and “incredible.” It is hard to compare this tool to anything we have seen before as it has the capacity to literally change everything we do. It can write proposals, program systems, develop modules for our use and quite likely do things in six months to a year that I have not even thought about. Several months ago, I wrote a blog questioning where the innovation in AV had gone. I think this has the ability to be that massive innovation. Along with rapid development and deployment of programs, it also has the potential to give us the gift of time. If we had unlimited time, we could make highly customized programming for our customers. By writing and debugging code for us, this tool gives us that ability. I understand there will be a lot of defensiveness about this. People will point out the silly errors that it makes, or the program that it can not write. But, eventually, those things will all be corrected. When that happens, if you are the person who has insisted this tool is not needed, you will be left behind. Whereas, if you are the leader in using the tool, you will have created your own future job. Unlike many other technological advances, this is a fast-moving technology and will have an immediate impact on our jobs. I guess that in less than 18 months, this will be a piece of your weekly, if not daily, conversations about technology.
No, this blog was not written by ChatGPT, but I did ask it to write a summary paragraph for me. Here is what it wrote:
“ChatGPT, or Generative Pre-training Transformer, is an AI system that has taken the tech world by storm with its ability to give human-like responses to questions. The tool has been in development for several years but was made widely available for testing by the public in November 2022. As technology managers in higher education, it is important to have an understanding of ChatGPT and its potential impact on teaching and assessing students. The tool also has the ability to write code quickly and accurately, making it a valuable asset for programmers. Microsoft has invested 3 billion dollars in OpenAI, the company that owns ChatGPT, and is in talks to invest another 10 billion to further develop the tool. Although there are ethical questions about the tool’s use in education, it is clear that ChatGPT is a game-changer and a valuable tool for technology professionals.”