Universities nationwide are concerned over the rise of students using artificial intelligence to complete assignments. Every discipline, from the social sciences to the physical sciences, along with the arts, has been affected by the rise of apps like Chat GPT and Dall-E. And the list goes on.
The sector is advancing so fast that any list attempting to summarize the landscape would need to be outdated by publication. Yet, many academics and intellectuals who prioritize innovation and creativity object to using such technology.
They are right to be concerned. It has never been more challenging to differentiate between codes, papers and even art created by humans and artificial intelligence. Technology has never been shy about progress, and it may only be a matter of time before artificial intelligence becomes indistinguishable from human intelligence.
Higher education has already felt the effect of artificial intelligence, and the future of higher education seems destined to be shaped by hybrid combinations of human and artificial intelligence. We can resist, attempting to preserve the purity and sanctity of higher education, or we can lean into artificial intelligence.
The confusion and outrage of artificial intelligence in higher education is not new. Almost every innovation is met with skepticism and, in some cases, conspiracy theory. Scientists were once stoned for suggesting the Earth is not flat, vaccines across history have been met with resistance, and the advent of the scientific calculator was thought to be the end of mathematics. Instead, the scientific calculator enhanced mathematics to greater heights than human history has ever known. Now, we can travel through space at blazing speeds, exploring our galaxy and the universe.
English is my fourth language. Many spelling and grammatical errors were in the original version of this article that editors had to correct. Am I a poor thinker because English isn’t my first language? Is an applied physicist a poor scientist if he or she can’t formulate an equation, only solve it and apply its findings? What the scientific calculator has done for math and science, artificial intelligence could do for communication and productivity. That said, scientific calculators are banned in math tests. When English proficiency is being tested, the solution can be as simple as testing in a controlled environment (a testing center).
Can students use artificial intelligence to cheat on assignments and assessments without professors finding out? Yes, but that could mean it’s time assignments and assessments are advanced beyond the current input-output model.
If artificial intelligence can score higher on assignments and assessments than human intelligence, higher education may need to do a better job of finding how to test intelligence that is uniquely human and not replicable by artificial intelligence. Rather than banning a machine from outperforming a man, perhaps we’ve found that the areas where a machine outperforms man are not uniquely human. So, what exactly are we testing … the extent to which a man can perform to the quality of a machine?
The human mind is the most challenging component of the human being to replicate. The fringe conspiratorial projections of a self-inflicted extinction of the human species may not be far from reality within a matter of centuries. In the past, humans were the authority on intelligence. But today, there is a solid case to be made that the highest levels of human intelligence could never sniff the potential of artificial intelligence.
It may not be long before artificial intelligence no longer answers to us; instead, we answer to it. Have we reached the peak of human intelligence such that furthering intelligence now requires shifting from human to artificial intelligence altogether?
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