Will Artificial Intelligence Kill College Writing?

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Jeff Schatten in The Chronicle of Higher Education: When I was a kid, my favorite poem was Shel Silverstein’s “The Homework Machine,” which summed up my childhood fantasy: a machine that could do my homework at the press of a button. Decades later that technology, the innocuously titled GPT-3, has arrived. It threatens many aspects of university education — above all, college writing.

The web-based GPT-3 software program, which was developed by an Elon Musk-backed nonprofit called OpenAI, is a kind of omniscient Siri or Alexa that can turn any prompt into prose. You type in a query — say, a list of ingredients (what can I make with eggs, garlic, mushrooms, butter, and feta cheese?) or a genre and prompt (write an inspiring TED Talk on the ways in which authentic leaders can change the world) — and GPT-3 spits out a written response. These outputs can be astonishingly specific and tailored. When asked to write “a song protesting inhumane treatment of animals in the style of Bob Dylan,” the program clearly draws on themes from Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind:”

How many more creatures must suffer?
How many more must die?
Before we open up our eyes
And see the harm we’re causing?

When asked to treat the same issue in the style of Shakespeare, it produces stanzas of iambic tetrameter in appropriately archaic English:

By all the gods that guide this Earth
By all the stars that fill the sky
I swear to end this wretched dearth
This blight of blood and butchery.

GPT-3 can write essays, op-eds, Tweets, jokes (admittedly just dad jokes for now), dialogue, advertisements, text messages, and restaurant reviews, to give just a few examples.

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Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Usman Nazir

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