Editorial : Tech Innovation Renews Educational Visions

【明報專訊】Every technological innovation presents a moment of soul-searching for humanity. However, it does not wait for humanity to draw its conclusion before bringing about changes to all industries. The changes to production models sweep across industries at lightning speed, and even trigger colossal challenges on issues such as laws and ethics.

ChatGPT is a type of artificial intelligence (AI). Based on massive amounts of data, it can learn and understand human languages, and thus communicate with users in a way similar to conversations between humans. From emails, video scripts and advertising copy, to translation pieces, computer codes and theses, ChatGPT even takes a range of writing tasks in response to questions put forward by users.

ChatGPT has attracted widespread attention around the world because some university students had handed in answers generated by the chatbot programme as homework. Even professors were unable to recognise that the work was not done by humans. This has immediately triggered polarised reactions. Some think that ChatGPT should be fully banned. Others argue that it is necessary to co-exist with robots. For now, there is no consensus.

Universities and research institutions have quickly declared their positions. What is beyond controversy is that ChatGPT cannot be the co-author of an academic paper. Some universities have stated that they do not accept answers provided by ChatGPT as the basis for assignments or theses. More universities consider unreferenced materials supplied by ChatGPT plagiarism.

In an email to all teachers and students last week, the University of Hong Kong said that because it is already the middle of the semester, there is little room for manoeuvre; its interim measure is to prohibit the use of ChatGPT or other AI-based tools in lessons or homework. At the same time, the university will launch a broad-based debate involving teachers and students to determine its long-term policy.

Ever since internet search engines provide information on everything, universities should not only deliver knowledge, or ask students to write standard answers in exams according to textbook information and their teachers' lecture contents. Such a traditional spoon-feeding model of education requires reforms. If ChatGPT easily gives model answers to exam questions, this only tells that the questions or tasks do not function in stimulating students to think and analyse with their heads, before offering their own stances and supporting arguments.

In their future jobs, students will work under the widespread use of AI. This situation is irreversible. Universities should start reworking their educational models. They ought to nurture students in critical and logical thinking, but not a mere understanding of knowledge, for this is the part AI can replace people in.

In Hong Kong, university managements are equipped with technical knowledge and an understanding of international academic practice. They should be able to find a proper solution to the plagiarism problem ChatGPT posed. Hong Kong faces changes to the big picture that will set the tone for this century, including a technological revolution and shifts in industrial structures, international relations and educational visions. How to adapt to, as well as embrace the challenges and opportunities brought about by these changes in the overall scene is a question deserving of deep consideration.

明報社評2023.02.27:科技革新顛覆傳統 倒逼教育理念創新









■ Glossary 生字 /

soul-searching : the careful examination of your thoughts and feelings, for example in order to reach the correct decision or solution to sth

plagiarism : the act of copying another person's ideas, words or work and pretending that they are your own; sth that has been copied this way

manoeuvre : to move or turn yourself or sth with skill or care

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