On November 30, 2022, Open AI — a tech startup founded by Elon Musk among others — released ChatGPT-3 to the world. Within just 2 months, the software surged to 100 million active users, making it the fastest growing application in history. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that allows a user to input almost any prompt and receive a response mimicking human conversation with considerable accuracy. Although there are occasionally times when ChatGPT outputs a response that is incorrect, its success rate and usability far surpasses chatbots that have come before it. However, with this development has come great impacts on today's world and for the future that are imperative to consider.
Unlike products such as those in the food industry that have to undergo strict scrutiny and countless regulations in order to be released to the public, technology can be instantly released to the entire world at ease. In addition, it is impossible to know what the true impact of releasing a software will have until it is out into the hands of the public. In the case of ChatGPT, OpenAI likely could not have foreseen all the different ways that people would use this technology and the transformations it is now bringing onto the world.
People are utilizing ChatGPT to complete their homework, whether it is writing code, an essay, or a script. Not just homework, but even news articles and other pieces of writing online are now being written by AI. It begs the question, what is the point of writing and why should humans do the "busywork" if ChatGPT and other AI tools can do it for us? Will future success be dictated by someone's prompt writing skills to use the AI, rather than doing the work themselves? Although there is an advantage to using AI to write, writing in and of itself holds value. Learning how to write is key to being able to express oneself and communicate to others, and thus people cannot solely rely on AI to do this work for them. However, perhaps the power of AI should be used to complement one's human skills.
With these developments arises the question of whether future developments in AI should be stifled or whether technologists should be encouraged to push forward with their innovations. Although it is difficult to choose one or the other, leaving AI research unchecked could result in vast implications beyond our imaginations. For example, OpenAI plans to release GPT-4 which they claim will have 100 trillion parameters, compared to the 175 billion parameters in GPT-3. This 1000-fold increase in the number of parameters strongly implies that the new GPT software will have capabilities never seen before.
ChatGPT is just the beginning of an AI arms race, with all of the major tech companies racing to build the best AI chatbot. As ChatGPT continues to upend societal norms and prompt difficult questions, schools and employers must reassess the meaning of education and the ethics of this emerging technology.