July 4, 2023 | 10:22
Students at one of America’s most elite universities are in for a surprise this fall when they discover their flagship coding class is taught with the help of an AI chatbot in a curve on what Professor David Malan, the course supervisor, defines it as an evolution of tradition.
Harvard University has unleashed plans to incorporate AI chatbots to teach the course, venturing deeper into AI uncharted territory — territory that has grown exponentially and altered the course of technology in recent months.
While the idea sounds new and exciting, Martin Rand, co-founder and CEO of PactumAI, warned to be wary of the dangers.
I would say the dangers are that we have to consider that these are statistical models. These will provide the most likely answers, and high probability can also mean mediocrity. So professors have to be there to provide exceptionality, and I think Harvard has taken the right approach in providing that only to introductory courses, he said.
Rand said that despite the potential downsides, development has an upside and could help create growth and encourage further innovation and education.
According to the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, Professor Malan said the introductory-level coding course that will employ the bot has historically aimed to unveil new software in its program and the CS50 [Computer Science 50] bot is another way to do this.
Our hope is that, through AI, we can eventually approximate a 1:1 teacher:student ratio for every student in CS50, providing them with software-based tools that, 24/7, can support their learning at a pace and in a style that works best for them individually, she told The Crimson.
According to the document, the AI robot will help students find errors in their coding, answer questions, offer feedback, and help students learn more about the coding process in other ways.
Malan further explained that while the bot has question answering capabilities, its answers can be reviewed by human staff members.
He also explained that the purpose of the bots is to help guide students through the learning process instead of openly answering questions for them.
Advances in artificial intelligence, particularly in education, have raised concerns that robots could lead to students becoming lazy and increasingly dependent on technology for answers.
Students have already started using ChatGPT to complete their school assignments in recent months.
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