This week we looked at some of the options that are available in the new world of AI tools and to say I was blown away would be an understatement…
I used to share this video in my ELA class about the power of poetry… near the end it talks about a 2016 Dartmouth research experiment where they had robots create poems and states that a panel of judges was able to spot the robot writing all the time. I don’t know if that would still be the case five short years later.
For example- is this a sonnet I wrote to share my love of language with my grade 10 AP class or did I use ChatGPT to generate it in less than one minute… You decide!
Oh English tongue, how sweet thy words do flow,
A symphony of rhythm and of rhyme.
Thy rules, a puzzle to bestow,
And phrases deep, that speak of love sublime.
Thy literature, a treasure trove to seek,
With tales of passion, heartache and desire.
Thy poetry, a thing of beauty unique,
That sets the soul ablaze with purest fire.
But oh, how oft thy beauty doth evade,
And leaves me lost in confusion and despair.
Thy complexities, a labyrinth unmade,
That tests my wit, my patience and my care.
Yet still I love thee, English language fair,
For all thy faults, thy beauty doth compare
So now what?!?
If we are entering a world where Generative Pre-trained Language Models are a thing… that’s right I think the first step is realizing this is a thing. If you’re bored here’s a helpful MIT research paper to tell you how they are measuring and improving GPTs. If you’re like me however you may never need to know anything more than what GPT stands for and in some cases you probably don’t even care about that. SO what should you care about when it comes to AI like ChatGPT? Well I might suggest that knowing what it is and what it is capable of is a good place to start. In terms of how this impacts education I think we are just on the surface of understanding the ripples this could cause. Here is what I know so far- after only about an hour of playing with the prompts we have discovered that it can write passable paragraphs, full essays, the multiple choice questions for your exam… and it does it all quite effectively and efficiently… In fact it has written this entire blog post up to this point.
But, if you have spent any time playing with this AI you probably believed me for a second and now you’re probably still wondering if that poem was written by me or by AI. It is the wondering that I think is the key at this point. So although later we will get into the debate about the value of AI in the classroom for now I feel a little like I’ve just been shown the first portable calculator. Did the teachers at that time throw away their math textbooks? Did they decide their career was over? Has math been eliminated from schools now that this handy device can give me all the answers? The answers to these questions- No, Probably, and Not Yet. So, if the calculator didn’t kill math then this probably won’t kill poetry or essay writing or the need to teach English in schools but it is certainly going to change how we teach, assess and understand a whole bunch of things. I always thought the cure to preventing plagiarism was creating a “non-googleable” prompt. Make your students write an essay that only they could write then they can’t just google it and cut and paste. Well, just for fun I put a prompt into ChatGPT to see what would happen… So much for ungoogleable….
Read the prompt and response here if you want. For the record the response took less than 5 minutes to generate.
That’s fine… language is one thing but computers can’t make art… can they?!?
I love this painting… I still remember the first time I saw it. To be honest I don’t think you can ever replace the feeling of seeing a painting in a gallery. I remember seeing Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte in art text books and on slides in my Art History classes but none of those came close to the experience of seeing it in person at the Art Institute of Chicago, where I realized for the first time that it was almost 2 x 3 meters in size. The impact an impressionist painting can have on you when you see it for the first time is hard to put into words. Much like the painting “An Expressionist Painting of a Family Dinner Table from 1950’s America with No People”; it’s hard to put into words what it is like to type your idea into an AI art generator and then wait five minutes and see an original “painting” come to life… but that’s exactly what this image is. Now this might not be 2 x3 meters, but it could be if I took the time to grab a brush, some paint and a rather large canvas- or better yet what if I just 3D print it? So I know we’re not supposed to debating yet– but if I generated this image and I get it printed or paint it myself who owns the artwork? Who owns the intellectual property me or DALL-E2? So sure, the technology isn’t perfect and not every request is going to generate a usable image but this one did and I could probably make more paintings with better prompts and eventually fill a gallery… does that make me an artist?
So is the art world on fire? Should we stop teaching students how to write essays? Should we run screaming into the streets like chicken little? Probably not, but should we figure out how to embrace this technology? To treat it as a tool (like a calculator)? Should we teach students to use it ethically? Yes! And it is exactly because of technological advances and moments like this that we need a course where we learn about and discuss technology in the classroom, because if we don’t our students are going to beat us to the punch and we’ll have marked thousands of ChatGPT essays and DALL-E art assignments before we realize what is going on. For the time being, though, no one is teaching how to generate effective AI prompts instead of teaching Shakespeare. No one is burning the Mona Lisa, yet… not even DALL-E… even though I asked it to. But we need to start thinking about what this level of AI means for the future of Education and probably soon.
“The Mona Lisa but its been destroyed by a fire”
Will × DALL·E
Human & AI