The New York City Department of Education announced a ban on the popular chatbot ChatGPT – which some have warned could inspire more student cheating – from their schools’ devices and networks.
Jenna Lyle, a spokeswoman for the department, said the decision to ban ChatGPT, which can generate conversational responses to text messages, was due to concerns about «negative impacts on student learning.»
«While the tool can provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,» Lyle said in an emailed statement.
It was not immediately clear if the ban applied to the City University of New York system. A CUNY representative did not immediately provide a comment to NBC News.
In New York public schools, ChatGPT may still be available on demand for classes studying artificial intelligence.
Although chatbots are not a new technology, ChatGPT, a chatbot created by the artificial intelligence company OpenAI, exploded on social media in late 2022 after some declared the bot to be a better search engine than Google thanks to its conversational speaking style and consistent, topical response style.
In an email statement in response to the New York City public schools ban, an OpenAI spokesperson said the company «does not want ChatGPT to be used for deceptive purposes in schools or anywhere else.»
The company «is already developing mitigations to help anyone identify text generated by that system,» the spokesperson said.
The New York City Department of Education’s decision to ban the bot comes amid debate about the impact ChatGPT could have on education if students used it to generate assignments, solve math equations and write essays.
Experts have acknowledged that chatbots like ChatGPT could be detrimental to education in the future, but in recent interviews with NBC News, some said they weren’t ready to sound the alarm just yet.
Those who work in both the education and AI fields said institutions will need to find ways to integrate chatbots like ChatGPT into their curriculum rather than ban them outright.
«There has always been a concern that technologies will eliminate what people do best, and the reality is that people have had to learn how to use these technologies to improve what they do best,» said Lauren Klein, an associate professor in the departments of English and quantitative theory and methods at Emory University, he said last month.
Many have compared chatbots to the rise of technology like the calculator, which was denounced as the death of math until educators began using it to enhance their classwork. Some educators also said that several computer-assisted writing tools, such as Google Docs’ Grammarly or Smart Compose, already exist and are currently used in academia.
Experts predicted that someone would probably create technology to detect if ChatGPT did a trial. Those predictions were correct.
On Monday, Edward Tian, a computer science student at Princeton University, tweeted who had spent the holidays creating a tool to detect whether a piece of text was generated by human or artificial intelligence.
“AI text generation is like opening Pandora’s box. It’s an incredibly exciting innovation, but with any new technology we need to create safeguards so it’s adopted responsibly,» Tian said in a Twitter message to NBC News on Thursday.
In subsequent tweets, Tian shared videos of the program in action. In a clip, she showed how her bot, GPTZero, detected both human and AI text. In one shorten, put text from a New Yorker article on GPTZero. The bot then declared the text to be «probably human generated!»
The OpenAI spokesperson said that ChatGPT was «available as a research preview to learn from real-world usage, which we believe is a critical part of developing and deploying secure and capable AI systems.»
«We are constantly incorporating feedback and lessons learned. We have always called for transparency around the use of AI-generated text,» the spokesperson said. «Our policies require that users be honest with their audience when using our API and creative tools like DALL-E and GPT-3.»
The company said it looks forward to «working with educators on useful solutions and other ways to help teachers and students benefit from artificial intelligence.»