Artificial intelligence (AI), friend or foe?
AI, an application computer system that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence has prompted controversy and concern, especially within educational institutions. However, AI has also defied the odds and proved to be a beneficial application for Sacred Heart University’s College of Arts & Sciences and SHU’s School of Computer Science & Engineering.
The programs partnered to launch a community-oriented program, Project Limulus, that applies AI to track horseshoe crabs in the Long Island Sound. The late Jennifer Mattei, who was a biology professor notorious for her dedication towards conducting research and providing opportunities for students, founded this project in 1998.
This project has conducted research for 25 years now and utilizes AI to perform a tag-and-recapture technique on horseshoe crabs to analyze their movement patterns and compare the data.
Samah Senbel, an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science & Engineering and a crucial asset to this project, has been working with students to develop a code for tracking the tagged horseshoe crabs, which is where AI comes in handy.
“The horseshoe crab project is a machine learning project. Machine learning is part of AI and the idea of using machine learning is to predict where we will find the horseshoe crab in a year,” said Senbel. “No data, no machine learning. It’s all based on previous data of the horseshoe crab movement in the last 25 years, that is the whole game of AI.”
Senbel is not the only one applying AI to the classroom. Gregory Golda, a professor in the Communication and Media Studies Department said that he has used several AI tools thus far in his production class.
“The first was called Descript where you can actually edit video by editing text. It was a very interesting experiment and it’s something that every student now has in their toolbox,” said Golda. “It doesn’t replace editing narrative films, documentaries or things with a great complexity, but it would do a great job on linear pieces like podcasts or interviews.”
AI Chat Bots, such as the new tool ChatGPT which launched in November, are being used in the classroom, but are getting mixed reactions.
Sidney Gottlieb, a professor in Communication and Media Studies shared his position on the new artificial intelligence tool.
“I’m just now reading the first set of papers turned in during the new ChatGPT era, and they seem to be what they have always been,” said Gottlieb. “That has always included some fine papers that are insightful, knowledgeable, and effectively presented and others that may be irresponsibly reliant on sources or plagiarized.”
This new application of AI has created two standpoints from educational institutions within the U.S. According to the Associated Press, ChatGPT has caused a sense of panic from many teachers
and school districts have blocked access to the site. Other teachers have taken a different route and used ChatGPT to make lesson plans for substitutes or to help grade papers.
“I think ChatGPT tempts some students to use it to do their work for them, and has created a climate of suspicion for teachers,” said Gottlieb. “Right now, I don’t feel at all confident that ChatGPT has great educational benefits and I’m more aware of the problems it poses, even when it’s being used ‘responsibly.’”
Sophomore Emma Grady opposes AI application in an educational setting.
“I think it’s stunting student’s ability to actually do research and learn how to turn that research into opinions on their own,” said Grady. “I don’t think AI is necessary because computers are replacing human intelligence.”
Sophomore Caroline Miller spoke similarly of AI technology.
“I think AI might make people work a little less harder and I don’t think that’s a good thing because it’s important to have a good work ethic when you leave here,” said Miller.
While there are still mixed feelings about AI, it is a revolutionary technological advancement and could become more prevalent in the future.
“The fear of AI replacing humans in the workplace is real but as so many analysts keep saying, the humans most likely to be replaced are the ones who refused to implement these tools in the first place,” said Golda.