The November 2022 arrival of ChatGPT – an interactive artificial intelligence writing tool that generates natural language text-based responses to user questions and prompts in seconds – made an largely invisible technology (artificial intelligence) highly visible to millions of users.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already prevalent in our lives - recommendation algorithms on social media and streaming platforms, facial recognition used to unlock phones to autocorrect, and autocomplete features in email and text messaging apps. But AI tools often remain invisible - meaning that we don't spend a lot of time thinking about what they are and how they work (maybe we should!).
ChatGPT (GPT stands for "generative pre-trained transformer”) has produced revolutionary changes in our relationships with digital tools and technologies. When launched publicly in November 2022, it gained more than 1 million registered users in just 5 days - becoming the fastest-growing technology platform ever (Harris, 2022).
As a digital writer, ChatGPT almost instantaneously circles through its database of text to produce natural sounding sentences and paragraphs in response to a prompt from a user. It can write essays, draft emails, create a list of ideas for a birthday party, write lesson plans, offer step-by-step tutorials for solving math problems, write blog posts and articles, draft a cover letter or resume, suggest life hacks or financial tips, describe complex scientific processes to different age levels (e.g., describe string theory to a 5 year old), write code, and create content in multiple languages. It can even write a poem about golf in the style of Maya Angelou!
Such results are amazing, blurring the lines between what humans can do that machines cannot.
Take this quiz from the New York Times to see if you can tell if a fourth grader or the new chatbot wrote an essay.
And, imagine what might happen in a future where news articles and media materials are written by AI...wait you don't have to imagine that, it's already happening (see CNET found errors in more than half of its AI-written stories).
But, what are the implications for everyday citizens when politicians, campaign managers, and political staff can have AI writing tools draft press releases, campaign slogans, social media posts, blogs, and more?
And, what impact might ChatGPT have on social studies/history, civics, and government learning if students turn to this tool (known for spewing misinformation and perpetuating harmful stereotypes) for help with their research?
ChatGPT brings with it real complexities and dangers. Technology researcher and educator Torrey Trust has shown that the system is not always safe or reliable as a information source (see ChatGPT & Education slide deck).
If AI tools produce false or misleading claims, then people’s roles as democratic decision-makers are curtailed, distorted, even blocked.
The "Exploring Black History with ChatGPT" choice board offers educators and students a way to develop their critical media literacy skills as they investigate text from ChatGPT and explore Black history in the United States (click here to make your own copy of the choice board to remix/use). Given ChatGPT’s potential for generating misinformation and biased information, these activities offer students a critical way to investigate how ChatGPT writes about Black lives and history, and potentially consider why this may be.
Explore Black History with ChatGPT by Latchman Ramlochan
This content is provided to you freely by EdTech Books.
Access it online or download it at https://edtechbooks.org/mediaandciviclearning/aiwritingtools.