Don’t Let Tech Hinder Development of Students’ Thinking Abilities

The emergence of highly capable artificial intelligence is shaking the field of education. The use of AI to replace human thinking is extremely problematic. Rules must be established urgently.

ChatGPT, a conversational AI model developed by a U.S. start-up, is able to produce highly accurate text by learning the relationships between words and other factors in text.

Since its release last November, the number of users has increased rapidly and is said to already exceed 100 million worldwide. Reports and papers can also be created instantly using this tool.

At the current stage, there is a risk of copyright infringement or the possibility of lies being included in the generated text, as well as personal or confidential information being exposed from the content of questions given to the AI.

However, in a survey conducted by the student newspaper of Stanford University in the United States, 17% of students reportedly said that they have used ChatGPT for examinations and homework. The situation must be similar in Japan. It is only natural that opinions have surfaced calling the situation a “crisis in education.”

Regarding students’ writing of reports and papers, the University of Tokyo, Sophia University and other universities have begun to restrict or prohibit the use of AI. Some universities have warned students about the use of AI at their entrance ceremonies.

New curriculum guidelines that emphasize the development of thinking and expressive abilities began to be rolled out at elementary, junior high and high schools from the 2020 academic year onward. In this regard, if AI is used freely by children, writing instruction and other lessons to this end will no longer be meaningful.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will prepare guidelines about the use of AI in schools and present points to keep in mind. This is a serious issue that affects the purpose and significance of education. The education ministry must hasten the creation of effective guidelines.

It is said to be difficult for teachers to detect whether students had an AI write a text for them. Some students have even posted on the internet that they had an AI write their self-introductions to be submitted to companies.

It may be necessary to consider measures such as having students gather at the venues for university examinations and corporate recruiting activities and use handwriting or oral presentations.

Advancement of technology itself is desirable. Depending on how it is used, it may lead to the creation of new value. However, it is difficult to say that it is appropriate to be so eager to use technology without sufficient discussion.

Thinking is essential for making judgments and expressing oneself. It is not right to entrust AI to do the work of “thinking,” which is the very essence of being human, just because it is troublesome to do so.

As Blaise Pascal said, “Man is but a reed … but he is a thinking reed.” Human dignity lies in thinking. This fact must not be forgotten.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 25, 2023)