What should the university do about the hotly debated chatbot ChatGPT? Computational linguistics lecturers and researchers at the UG are both fascinated and critical.
The chatbot can be made to write entire essays, theses, poems, or creative writing pieces in a matter of minutes, and it’s both loved and mistrusted for this, as was evident during the UG event ‘An evening with ChatGPT’.
The event had been organised by a group of researchers and lecturers also known as GroNLP: Groningen Natural Language Processing.
ChatGPT is not a ‘neutral’ programme, said assistant professor Arianna Bisazza. If the model behind a programme such as ChatGPT takes on prejudices about race, religion, or sexual orientation, it will produce prejudiced information, she said.
‘The information being generated only portrays a single view, while many other views are being disregarded’, says Bisazza. Certain cultures and minorities are overrepresented, and the programme’s main language is English.
Nicolas Cage for president
Even though the chatbot is starting to learn to recognise and counter prejudices, it will always be a cheap and fast way to create misinformation. Ask ChatGPT to explain how the actor Nicolas Cage could become president of the United States and the programme easily writes a Wikipedia-like essay, including sources that don’t actually exist.
But ChatGPT can also be very useful. Everyone can make the programme come up with poetry, solve riddles, and write university-level text, all for free.
As long as the text can be verified, it could be an interesting solution, according to GroNLP. ‘There’s a big difference between Google, which suggests contents that already exist, and ChatGPT, which creates its own content’, says Bisazza.
While the chatbot is creative, using ChatGPT means you don’t use your own knowledge or creativity, some people say. Lecturers think students would have it too easy if they used the bot.
They predict laziness, an increased risk of cheating, and a decrease in critical thinking. ‘However, banning or regulating the programme is useless’, says PhD student Martijn Bartelds, who’s with the research group. ‘Someone else would probably come up with a similar programme to ChatGPT.’
‘We have to face it, the programme is only going to get better, faster, and smarter’, says post-doctoral candidate Rik van Noord. ‘ChatGPT is here to stay.’
Watch a recording of the evening here.