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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

A Wharton business school professor is requiring his students to use ChatGPT

A Wharton business school professor is requiring his students to use ChatGPT

UPenn professor Ethan Mollick told NPR that he thinks educators need to adapt to the new technology, despite fears of cheating.
While ChatGPT may be getting heat from certain educators who worry it will facilitate cheating, one professor said that he is embracing the technology with open arms.

Ethan Mollick, an entrepreneurship and innovation professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, told NPR on Thursday that he now requires his students to use ChatGPT to help with their classwork.

"This is a tool that's useful," Mollick said during the NPR interview. "There's a lot of positives about it. That doesn't minimize the fact that cheating and negativity are there, but those have been there for a long time."

His new AI policy — which NPR reviewed — calls AI usage an "emerging skill." The policy also states that students must check ChatGPT's responses and will be held accountable for any inaccuracies that the bot spits out.

Mollick said that he's already seeing positive results. During class this week, nearly all of his students used ChatGPT to help generate project ideas for an assignment.

"The ideas so far are great, partially as a result of that set of interactions," Mollick said.

He also said it can help students, especially non-native English speakers, improve their writing and alleviate the burden of stressful writing tasks, such as writing emails and letters. Some of his students who have used the AI to do just that told him that they were "taken more seriously" as a result.

Mollick did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

The Wharton professor's policy comes after some schools decided to ban students and teachers from using ChatGPT out of fear that it would encourage plagiarism and cheating. Some professors have already caught their students using ChatGPT to write their essays, and one university student even made a tool to identify AI plagiarism.

But Mollick is part of a class of educators who think that ChatGPT can actually be useful.

He admits that it is "depressing" to know that cheating may occur at "an even grander scale" as a result of ChatGPT. But at the same time, he thinks that teachers must learn to adapt to new technologies as they emerge.

"We've taught people how to do math in a world with calculators," he said, likening ChatGPT to that technology.

Sam Altman — the CEO of OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT — echoed the sentiment.

In an interview with StrictlyVC, Altman said that he understands why educators are worried about ChatGPT, but that ultimately, the benefits would outweigh the costs. He said that the chat bot can be "an unbelievable personal tutor."

"Generative text is something we all need to adapt to," Altman said.

And it's not like ChatGPT is perfect.

"AI will never be as good as the best experts in a field," Mollick said. "We still need to teach people to be experts."
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