On critical thinking and artificial intelligence: Inquirer contributor

4 days ago 28

MANILA - The public, specifically the academe, has recently been confronted by both shock and awe at its latest challenge: artificial intelligence (AI).

The issue started when a faculty from the University of the Philippines (UP) posted on social media the rambling essay of a student, expressing suspicion that AI might have been used to write it.

The post prompted some UP faculty members to call for a review of the state university’s policies on academic integrity to include the use—or misuse—of AI in meeting class requirements. The faculty of UP Diliman’s AI Program “condemned the misrepresentation of AI outputs as valid scholarly works,” while also pushing for the use of the technology “to improve and encourage student learning.”

Noted the faculty’s statement: “Manuscripts, graphic designs, videos, computer programs, and other academic requirements must be solely created by the student or group of students, as required by the instructor of the course. However, the use of AI tools to enhance and facilitate the students’ learning should be encouraged.”

In my view, the enemy is neither the machine nor this latest technology, but rather individuals who refuse to think for themselves. Despite the possible danger of this app, the far more dangerous scenario is a society or body politic composed of unthinking members.

Instead of shunning ChatGPT, professor Ramon Guillermo did something that to my mind is absolutely brilliant: he engaged the app in a conversation. The same was true of professor Randy David; not only did he download the app, but also tested its “intelligence.”

His verdict? “Although it bore clear attempts at embellishment, the poem I prompted (about gray mornings and the stillness of the forest) came out flat and formulaic. The story I requested (on the pros and cons of AI) was too general, almost as if it was an attempt to expand the headings of a Wikipedia entry. But the outline (on the concept of globalisation) was quite useful—at least as a starting point for a sensible discussion on the topic. Here, perhaps, is a way of repurposing a tool like this—use it to tease out your own thoughts on a given subject, a means to get out of the barren object fixation that a blank page can often induce.” (“AI and the challenge to education,” Public Lives, 1/22/23).

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