There has been a lot of attention in the media, business organisations and educational institutes of late about A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) and the implications of this technology. Why is this such a hot topic? What is the fuss? In this article, you will find answers to some of the questions students have been asking us about this technology.
Where did it all begin?
The Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland tell us that AI began as far back as 1642 with the first mechanical calculating machine built by French Mathematician and inventor, Blaise Pascal. That being so, they say that modern AI began in the 1950s with the development of the first ‘thinking machines’. These took inspiration from how the brain works and created artificial neural networks that could be trained to perform procedures and solve problems (2019).
Why has there been a sudden rise in media attention to AI?
It seems like A.I. has made a sudden splash and is all over the news and social media. This is because a number of technologies launched their platforms into the open-source world. This has given the general public a chance to become familiar with these platforms and start using them for a range or tasks. ChatGPT is the perfect example of this. The wide-scale use of these platforms has brought with it a broader knowledge of this technology and the ethical considerations that need to be considered.
What exactly is ChatGPT?
Put simply, ChatGPT enables users to ask questions and a bot will respond with natural-sounding answers and topics. Because it is designed to mimic real conversations, it is capable of explaining, elaborating, recapping and much more. The bot obtains answers from the text that it has been provided with and while this is in excess of 50 trillion words, it is still limited. For example, the text for the open source (free) version of ChatGPT was uploaded in 2021. Therefore, answers cannot include events and knowledge that have developed in 2022 or 2023. Furthermore, answers are based on the text the bot has been trained on. The bot does not interrogate information sources, such as articles or internet sites for answers.
What can AI do and what can it not do?
This video provides a good overview of the types of tasks that A.I. is good at and those that it cannot perform.
So, is AI a good thing?
Yes & No – there is no simple answer to this question.
AI currently performs many tasks that benefit our lives. An example is AI Media who provide the captioning on television screens for viewers experiencing problems hearing sound.
On the other hand the potential of technology to produce deep fakes can, and has already, been put to use for criminal activity.
These are only two examples of the vast array of ethical and non-ethical uses of this technology. There are interesting days ahead in this field.
What do students need to think about before using AI platforms?
Some of the concerns around students using A.I. include:
- privacy and security;
- plagiarism and intellectual property; and
- inaccuracies, misinformation and biases.