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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Letter to the Editor: How Bing and ChatGPT can undermine intellectual growth, autonomy

Mia Hennen
Education professor Elizabeth Heilman prepares to speak to the Faculty Senate on Sept. 25. Heilman served as an applied studies senator.

This op-ed letter addresses a matter of great concern that has come to my attention recently. With the advent of AI applications like Bing and ChatGPT, I have observed an immediate significant decline in the thoughtfulness, detail and appropriateness of the assignments submitted by my students. It is disheartening to note, according to multiple surveys, that a large chunk of college students nationwide are now turning in AI-generated assignments, and I suspect that some of my students may be tempted to do the same.

I implore all WSU students to resist this temptation. Your university education is a journey of growth, much like a physical workout strengthens your body. Effort and intellectual struggle not only make you wiser but also smarter, as they stimulate new networks in your brain. 

Reading complex texts and drawing your own conclusions are essential exercises for your intellectual strength and freedom. Using AI-generated intellectual work is akin to submitting an AI-generated video of yourself working out to your coach instead of actually putting in the effort. It defeats the purpose of being on the team if you’re not willing to do the work.

I am deeply concerned about the predictions that using AI-generated work as a substitute for human reading, thinking, and writing will make people less capable of critical thinking and creativity, making them more easily exploited as workers and citizens.

In light of this concern, I have made the decision to stop awarding partial credit for vague, undetailed, partially correct answers that minimally define answers “as typed,” in a way that Google or AI would answer without thoughtful engagement with how the terms and concepts are actually used in our readings. 

I have assigned readings such as my own book chapters and highly specialized philosophical essays that Bing or ChatGPT cannot adequately respond to or provide accurate information on. Bing or ChatGPT have not and cannot read these texts. These applications draw from a vast store of partially accurate, most “average” and uncontroversial texts online. Furthermore, there are filters against creativity, criticality and controversy in Bing and ChatGPT.  

More importantly, I want you, or WSU students, to desire wisdom and increased intelligence. I want you to be wary of a world where the ability to read critically and think creatively is diminished by proprietary AI software.

To further emphasize the importance of this matter, I would like to share some insights from an article titled “Artificial Intelligence: 7 Things College Students Need to Know Before Using AI.” 

From the article:

“1. It’s still plagiarism: Using AI may not be the same as taking credit for someone else’s work, but it still constitutes cheating. Passing off work that you did not complete on your own can have severe consequences in academia.”

2. AI is not reliable: AI can fabricate information when it cannot find an answer or is asked to complete a task it doesn’t understand. It is crucial to differentiate between actual facts, sources, quotes, etc., related to your course material and those that are fabricated.”

3. Robots aren’t smarter than people: While AI is fast and proficient in grammar and sentence structure, it lacks consciousness and understanding. It cannot evaluate, make connections, empathize, or think critically like humans can.”

In conclusion, I urge you to embrace the challenges of your education and resist the allure of AI shortcuts. Your growth as critical thinkers and intellectuals is paramount, and your professors are committed to supporting your journey. 

Let us work together to ensure that your university experience truly enhances your wisdom and intelligence.

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About the Contributor
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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