Op-Ed: AI and Inquiry

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The introduction to Sean Meehan’s August 16, 2023 Inside Higher Ed op-ed, “Why Aren’t We Asking Questions of AI?”

“Since the release of ChatGPT in late 2022, many questions have been raised about the impact of generative artificial intelligence on higher education, particularly its potential to automate the processes of research and writing. Will ChatGPT end the college essay or prompt professors, as John Warner hopes, to revise our pedagogical ends in assigning writing? At Washington College, our Cromwell Center for Teaching and Learning organized a series of discussions this past spring motivated by questions: What is machine learning doing in education? How might we define its use in the classroom? How should we value it in our programs and address it in our policies? True to the heuristic nature of inquiry in the liberal arts and sciences, this series generated robust but unfinished conversations that elicited some initial answers and many more questions.”

And the conclusion:

“As we continue to raise questions about AI, we need not resist all things algorithm. After all, we have been working and teaching with rule-based procedures long before the computer. But we can choose, as educators, to use emerging algorithmic tools more heuristically and with more rhetorically significant purpose. Rhetorically speaking, the best heuristics are simple concepts that can be applied to interrogate and sort through complex ideas, adapting prior knowledge to new contexts: What is X? Who values it? How might X be viewed from alternative perspectives? Such is inquiry, which, like education, can be guided but hardly commanded. If we are going to use AI tools to find and shape answers to our questions, we should generate and pose the questions.”

The conclusion from Sean Meehan’s August 16, 2023 Inside Higher Ed op-ed, “Why Aren’t We Asking Questions of AI?”

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