Powerful ChatGPT: A Disruptor or Facilitator for Universities? Know It All Here

The entire world of education is almost going everywhere. There is something called chat GPT. So you have a conversational open artificial intelligence chat bot which can answer every question that you ask. Is this for you? Give an answer to a question that would normally come in an exam. Even at times, right, songs and poems for you.

There are some of my students, some of my learners who tried writing a love letter using chat GPT. Well, the whole fear that has come that professors and teachers will go out of business. These would not have any jaw at all. After all, you can get any answers just through an AI chat bot. Let me add to that. If this was very discerning and this was very disruptive, it was very distressing for many.

Let me come out with another point. Quora is coming out with another platform called PO, POE PO, which is a chat bot aggregator. So 11 to 12 chat bots will be brought together, including chat GPT, where a question can be asked and multiple interpretations of the same question can be given by using multiple chat bots. So you had one answer and now you have possible five answers coming out through the use of AI. So you have choices to make. Does it mean universities will go out of circulation? I will add another point.

Sometime earlier, six of world’s largest companies decidedly most of them are tech companies and that includes Facebook, Google, Amazon and IBM. They have come out with this whole thing that they would be recruiting people on competences not on degrees. And their argument is a bit of degree of Sierra Leone may not be comparable with Pennsylvania or with Delhi. And even within a country for example, a BTEC degree from an unknown university in Sagar or Gorakhpur may not be comparable with the same degree title from IIT Kharagpur in India, same country. So what is the point of looking at people or CVs with a degree? Even as a hygiene factor, why should degree be looked at? Why not competences? Does it mean that degree centrality of universities is facing a big crisis? Yes and no. There is a crisis. The universities are not because they are the legal part to deliver offered degrees.
If the centrality in employability and entrepreneurship offered degree does not remain, except maybe the government jobs do not account for even 10 percent of the total employability in a country anywhere, then what is the point of telling that universities can offer degrees? The issue now would be that universities have to redefine itself in the times where degree centrality does not remain and in the times where AI chatbots can answer questions.

Let me point out a few things. One, chatbot is giving me or let us say the poor chatbot is giving me five different interpretations of the questions I asked. Or till then, by the time because poor is still not available to the masses, but chat GPT is and even I have also an account there. It is at least giving me one answer to the question I am asking, but is the answer totally right? Are all facts correct? Is the analysis, the right analysis that I would like to give? Do I have a frame of reference to understand the conclusions drawn in the chat GPT generated response? Now these will require me to be beyond just copy-pasting a chat GPT note. That is where education will come in. And education, training, learning, these were different terms in the earlier times. Post pandemic they are coming closer. So while people educated had a mindset about people who are trained considering the training is about technical hands, technical skills alone and not interpretative are up for a complete surprise.

And on the other hand, a technical hand without knowing how to do it and without knowing why to do it would not even survive. So to understand anything, why to do it? First of all what to do? That chat GPT can tell, but why to do it and how to do it would require a human intelligence to understand that. Loki jobs, Loki skills will be taken over by automation, surely by artificial intelligence. It is already in the process. I have been in Netherlands where I have been a traveller in a car without a driver. I have been in Dubai where I have used the security parking area without any person manning the security booth, completely automated. So there are several jobs, perhaps more than 50% of the jobs which are low skill, Loki. They may go out of the hands of the human beings. But then to create the first template, to create the first sample, to create the first design still you will need a human mind, a human genius with a design thinking mind. Can the universities tap into that?

Today universities are actually training people in repetitive jobs, in things which are very easily replicable and hence the skills that they bring need not be always futuristic. But can you look at futuristic skills, problem solving, creative? Innovation, innovation going beyond doing the current thing nicely, that is not innovation. Machine can do it even better. Innovation is disruptive, doing the same thing with a different set of resources, different timeline, different money and different approach. Can such things be done by artificial intelligence, perhaps in future but not at this point of time? The universities which are looking at analysis, application, customization, ideas which are disruptive still have some due to to, still have some role to be done.

Unfortunately our mass education, while we educate a large number of people at the same time, cannot get into individual one on one mentoring. But times have come, teaching is dead, long live the mentor, student is dead, long live active learning. So this passive learning that we have been seeing, we have been doing ourselves at times and the teaching from us like a sage from the stage, unilateral with the power point, with the topic, with the student didn’t know before entering the classroom. These things are going surely for a, the death knell has been sounded for these things. So LMS driven, blended education, which seamlessly blends what we learn individually at my own time, at my own place, at my own pace and then what I, what we learn digitally live or physically live. Then what we learn experientially by doing seamlessly integrating such a learning and evaluating each of this component independently, not merely mugged up knowledge. That sort of an education will still survive and flourish.

So can we have a university that looks at flip class learning that looks at blended learning, that looks at multi assessment and not just exam based written assessment, that looks at comprehensive excellence, not just academic knowledge, but leadership skills as well, but understanding of digital technologies and making use of that as well. Can we think of a literature exam evaluation, examination is old school, literature evaluation which does not make the person write, but enact an act of the novel or recite a part of the poetry or perhaps make a model or talk about for example, six period literature looking at the costumes that six period literature talks about. The cuisine, the political philosophy, the romance, the comedy, the black comedy and things like that.

Now we have all always written essays on them, what I am asking is can we write, can we create models out of that, charts out of that, express that in a dramatic form, express that in a poetic form. Now when we can do this creatively, we actually develop a faculty of the mind beyond just information that is what AI cannot do still.

So I would request all educationists, cease to be educationists, become education enablers. Educational enablers do not give the answers, do not necessarily tell what is right and wrong, they tell these are the options possible, these are the ways and means you can think of, what you finally think of is your concern, long back during European Reneza, Italian scholar Carlisle had told ask people to think, do not tell what to think. This is the time we have come where we should not be telling formula or processes, let people discover and hence structured learning of the universities should evolve into, from structured it starts not out, but should evolve into deep dive organic learning, learning has to be self-discovery.

Unfortunately we have made it a mass dictated education and not a self-discovery learning. So in the ultimate analysis, technology is great, is great to have modern fourth industrial revolution, new technologies, emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning and all that, but technology is a great slave or disastrous master.
So make use of technology, make it an enabler not your ruler, do not outsource your faculty your intelligence to technology, let it help you rediscover things, innovate things and invent things. Thank you.

(Excerpts from the talk of Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury)

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