AI Driven ChatGPT Raising Concern Among Malaysia’s Academia

ChatGPT is designed to mimic human-like conversation. However, its accurate responses are almost indistinguishable from human-written text.

AI Driven ChatGPT Raising Concern Among Malaysia’s Academia

Capable of easily completing college-level essays in seconds, the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven ChatGPT is raising concern among Malaysia’s academia. Launched last November, ChatGPT is designed to mimic human-like conversation. However, its accurate and thorough responses are almost indistinguishable from human-written text.

Last month, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found that AI-driven ChatGPT was able to score between a B- and B for the school’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

While there is hardly any information about its use in Malaysia, New York City’s public schools recently blocked AI-driven ChatGPT access on its school devices and networks due to its “negative impacts on student learning and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of its content”.

Yesterday, creators of the program released a tool which they said is designed to detect when written works are authored by AI.

Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) chairman Zaharom Nain said although one should not be “dazzled, blinded or seduced” by programs such as ChatGPT, it was equally important not to regard them with disdain.

He said history has shown that the use and abuse of technology depends on how societies are structured and operated, and noted that it is quite likely technology will be used for the right purposes in societies where integrity and honesty are the “cornerstone” by which institutions of higher learning are built on.

“The question that begs asking is, do such societies and institutions really exist in this era of neoliberalism?” he said. “More specifically, are Malaysian institutes of higher education paragons of virtue, honesty, and integrity?

“If they aren’t – and given the ongoing accounts of plagiarism, cheating, bullying and fraudulent activities, it looks as if many aren’t – then, quite likely, technology like ChatGPT would just be another weapon in the overall cheating game.”

Zaharom said while some academics will examine how ChatGPT can be of use, and try to figure out ways to counter its abuse, those who lack integrity will seek ways to abuse such technology, such as by producing fake assignments or churning out “research” papers in obscure journals.

“Quite simply, if there are no guidelines, it will be free-for-all,” he said. “Even with guidelines, given the rotten state of much of academia in Malaysia, implementing and enforcing the guidelines would be another problem altogether.”

Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s (UMT) faculty of fisheries and food science also highlighted the “hot debate” on using AI among scientific communities for books and journal papers.

Apart from the risk of lecturers “getting lazy to think” and lacking creativity to write original papers and books, he said, PhD students could potentially write their entire thesis without having to put much thought into it.

“There would be no discovery of new knowledge or to innovate beyond the limits of such AI tools,” he said. “And we won’t be able to produce independently thinking scholars who can do original research and write original ideas based on our mental strength as humans.”

Tajuddin also said proficiency in English will take a “nosedive” as students with poor English will be able to produce written work in “100% perfect English”, but deliver their presentations in “mangled English”.

Universiti Malaya senior economics lecturer Goh Lim Thye said ChatGPT could hinder the development of critical thinking and cognitive abilities among students.

While he said institutes of higher education welcome the use of technology to enhance students’ learning experiences, the integrity of higher education may be “jeopardised” by ChatGPT.

Although there is limited information about the use of ChatGPT in local institutions, he hoped researchers and students will use the technology to improve the way they write and answer questions, rather than just to complete their articles, thesis or assignments.

“ChatGPT’s ability to write and debug computer programs, compose music, teleplays, fairy tales, student essays, and answer test questions is concerning,” he said.

He also said ChatGPT could exacerbate the gap between the rich and the poor as rich students who can afford to subscribe to the professional version of ChatGPT may perform better in producing assignments and obtaining higher grades, thus “making the entire system a money game”.

“Those who are wealthier will be labelled as smarter by the society, while those who are poor will be labelled as less intelligent,” he said.

Originally published at Free Malaysia Today