ChatGPT: The Next Gutenberg Press Moment

ChatGPT: The Next Gutenberg Press Moment

Thomas Meyer, Section Editor


The new technology that has taken the world by storm, ChatGPT, was created by OpenAI and is a chatbot that uses human language to simulate human conservation. It is trained on a huge database of languages and can be used for text summarizations, conversation simulation, and language translation. It is essentially a model that uses deep learning techniques, meaning it can generate coherent text on its own, in addition to the text it was trained with. 


The technology is fascinating, but this new online tool raises several ethical questions that have immediate ramifications in the classroom. Bots can write essays and articles on almost any topic imaginable, including but certainly not limited to literature, history, and science. In addition, for better or worse, this text is very well synthesized and developed, which means it can be difficult to tell that it was generated by AI. Many texts created by AI can pass through plagiarism detectors. Currently, some people are claiming to be able to tell that the texts are computer-generated as it sometimes reads unnaturally, but surely as this technology advances, it will become less and less possible. 


AI can also be used in research as it can systematically synthesize large quantities of information. For example, instead of spending hours reading articles and books, you can have Bot give you a summary generated of many more articles and books from reading than humanly possible. Bot can also mimic certain styles whether in writing or music meaning that it can be used to generate “originals” that may read like your work. Sparknotes will become irrelevant as Bot can offer summary and analysis of literature. Research for your paper on the Mongol Empire can be completed in minutes. Bot can even write for you. 


There has been some debate around the use of ChatGPT and other language models in schools. Proponents argue that these models can be used to help students improve their writing skills by providing real-time feedback and suggestions for grammar, vocabulary, and style. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used as a tool for language translation, which can help students who are learning a second language. Critics, however, argue that the use of language models in schools could lead to students becoming overly reliant on technology and lose the ability to think critically and express themselves effectively. They also express concerns that the use of these models could perpetuate bias and misinformation present in the data on which the models were trained. It’s worth noting that the use of ChatGPT and other language models in education is still a relatively new concept, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and drawbacks.


The previous paragraph was generated by Bot with the prompt “debate around ChatGPT in schools.” Did you even notice? Perhaps. Looking back, you could maybe say that it seems like less sophisticated writing, very structured and following templates in formating. It may feel slightly off, but this could be because of hindsight or a “placebo.” It isn’t obvious that I didn’t write it. If it were trained in my writing style, you can only imagine how difficult it would be to tell. However, the power this tool holds is clear. 


Here is one more example:


Prompt: “Write a speech in the style of Thomas Jefferson about school synthesizing principles from Sun Tzu”



“My fellow citizens,


As we gather here today to discuss the education of our youth, I cannot help but reflect on the words of the ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu. He wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”


In this statement, Sun Tzu reminds us of the importance of understanding and knowledge in the pursuit of success. This principle applies not only to the battlefield, but also to the classroom.


In order to excel in this ever-changing and complex world, our children must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate the challenges they will face. They must be taught to think critically, to analyze information, and to make informed decisions.


But knowledge alone is not enough. Sun Tzu also wrote, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” In other words, true strength lies not in the ability to defeat one’s enemies through force, but through intelligence, strategy, and diplomacy.


This principle applies to our children as well. They must not only be equipped with the knowledge to succeed, but also with the skills to communicate effectively, to work collaboratively, and to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and constructive manner.


We must also remember that, as Sun Tzu wrote, “All warfare is based on deception.” In this world, our children will be confronted with misinformation and propaganda. They must be taught to question the information they receive and to seek out the truth.


As we strive to provide our children with the best education possible, let us remember the principles of Sun Tzu. Let us equip them with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate the challenges they will face, and to emerge victorious not through brute force, but through intellect, strategy and diplomacy.


Thank you.”


I am beyond impressed and wonder at the extent to which this technology will develop. This will certainly be a debate in the future, in the fields of ethics, philosophy, and politics. More broadly, this will revolutionize the workplace and the economy. We often discuss turning points and eras: industrial revolution, technological revolution, market revolution, and internet revolution. The magnitude of the effect of ChatGPT and similar technologies may rival the Gutenberg Press which is arguably the “spark” for the modernization of the world.