Powerful AI App Banned in NYC Schools, Officials Fear App Will Do Student’s Work - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Powerful AI App Banned in NYC Schools, Officials Fear App Will Do Student’s Work

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By: Jared Evan

ChatGPT is such a powerful artificial intelligence app that NYC public schools are banning the use of this tool.

The move comes amid growing concerns that the tool, which generates eerily convincing responses and even essays in response to user prompts, could make it easier for students to cheat on assignments. Some also worry that ChatGPT could be used to spread inaccurate information, according to a recent CNN report.

“Due to concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content, access to ChatGPT is restricted on New York City Public Schools’ networks and devices,” Jenna Lyle, the deputy press secretary for the New York public schools, said in a statement. “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success.”

New York City appears to be one of the first major school districts to crack down on ChatGPT, barely a month after the tool first launched. Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School District moved to preemptively block the site on all networks and devices in their system “to protect academic honesty while a risk/benefit assessment is conducted,” a spokesperson for the district told CNN this week.

Education publication ChalkBeat first reported the news.

Although the chatbot is restricted under the new policy, New York City public schools can request to gain specific access to the tool for AI and tech-related educational purposes.

In an exclusive statement to CNN, a spokesperson for OpenAI, the artificial intelligence research lab behind the tool, said it made ChatGPT available as a research preview to learn from real-world use. The spokesperson called that step a “critical part of developing and deploying capable, safe AI systems.”

Peter Feng, the public information officer for the South San Francisco Unified School District, said to CNN that the district is aware of the potential for its students to use ChatGPT but it has “not yet instituted an outright ban.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia said it has “no knowledge of students using the ChatGPT nor have we received any complaints from principals or teachers.”

According to their Wikipedia page, ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models and is fine-tuned (an approach to transfer learning) with both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques. ChatGPT was launched as a prototype on November 30, 2022, and quickly garnered attention for its detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge. Its uneven factual accuracy was identified as a significant drawback. Following the release of ChatGPT, OpenAI was reportedly valued at $29 billion.

While the core function of a chatbot is to mimic a human conversationalist, journalists have also noted ChatGPT’s versatility and improvisation skills, including its ability to write and debug computer programs; to compose music, teleplays, fairy tales, and student essays; to answer test questions (sometimes, depending on the test, at a level above the average human test-taker); to write poetry and song lyrics; to emulate a Linux system; to simulate an entire chat room; to play games like tic-tac-toe; and to simulate an ATM. ChatGPT’s training data includes man pages and information about Internet phenomena and programming languages, such as bulletin board systems and the Python programming language.

In comparison to its predecessor, InstructGPT, ChatGPT attempts to reduce harmful and deceitful responses.

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