Home » A Cautionary Tale…and I Wrote It Myself

It’s all over the news- ChatGPT-the chat bot designed to “interact in a conversational way…answer follow up questions, admit it’s mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests”. *

I believe its intent is for the good, not bad, and I believe artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT can be a useful tool under the right circumstances. Just as I believe that a power screwdriver is a wonderful tool but should NOT be used on people skulls.

Good use/Bad use. Are we all on the same page so far? Great.

The first time I heard stories about ChatGPT it was explaining its virtues, intelligence, and what it could do. As I listened my thoughts trailed off immediately down the rocky road of “what about students using this to write their papers, essays, blogs, and take home tests for them?” How would teachers, already overwhelmed, begin to catch the number of offenders this could attract?

There’s an app for that- and it’s fascinating where it came from, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The second road my thoughts went down led to apprenticeship. I thought about the fact that IECC’s electrical apprentices would not be tainted by something like this. Why? Because their critical thinking is a combination of showing their work on paper, at a whiteboard, in actual hands on applications, and on the job sites where all of their practical education is put to use. Apprentices MUST work full time during the four years they pursue their Journeyworker licensure.

You can’t command an AI chat function to wire a control for you. You can’t ask ChatGPT to construct a motor control or configure a dimming system and install it. An app isn’t going to bend conduit for you.

You see where I’m going. I hope.

The critical thinking an electrician must do cannot be “cheated”. Thank God. I like going into buildings that aren’t likely to burn down in an electrical fire and using elevators that reliably work. I like it when the heat or A/C comes on as it should and I have lighting to perform my tasks.

It takes an electrician.

I have a college degree, earned long before the internet. Still, I’m sure that essays or any writing assigned today is meant to function much the way it did when I attended school in a horse and buggy….

…READ the materials, DO your research, and DISPLAY your own critical thinking. Both the written word and spoken word give us opportunities to express ourselves and both act as roadmaps to the way we think and process information. I’m sure you’ve known someone who is an eloquent speaker but seems clunky on paper- and vice versa. I’ve worked with a number of people who are impressive in person but are lost when you see them in writing.

These are important skills to have and hone as we grow, throughout our lives.

I promised you a happy ending- and I have one. Edward Tian, a 22 year old Princeton student, became so concerned over ChatGPT and the opportunity for plagiarism that something like that presents, he created “GPTZero”. GPTZero is built to “quickly and efficiently” determine if a human or ChatGPT wrote the assignment.

Tian is a computer science student minoring in journalism. It concerned him that students using this technology would be passing off AI writing as their own. Sit with this for a minute and think about the implications of plagiarized work product being handed in. As an employer, would you want to hire someone based on this “skillset” only to find out the person is NOT doing their own research and writing? I wouldn’t.

If you’re curious about this and want to know more I recommend this article: https://www.npr.org/2023/01/09/1147549845/gptzero-ai-chatgpt-edward-tian-plagiarism

I am, for now, pleased to inform you that electrical apprentices are performing their own critical thinking. They are by nature problem solvers.

Stay curious my friends. Stay curious.

Jenny Boone
VP of Business Development for IEC Chesapeake