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ChatGPT: What is it and why does it matter?

By: Vaishnavi Peyyety, Red & Black Current Events Staff Writer
APR. 4, 2023 - ChatGPT is a chatbot that allows users to have human-like conversations driven by AI technology. It is a natural programming language that can help with writing code or essays. This tool is free to the public as it continues to be researched and modified.
W&J student opens ChatGPT app (staged photo). Photo Courtesy Regan Carlson
OpenAI, an AI and research company, launched this tool in November 2022. It can be accessed through chat.openai.com after creating an OpenAI account. It had over 1 million users in the first five days after launching and is one of the fastest growing apps of all time according to Swiss bank UBS. After a couple months, this tool had 100 million active users.
But how does ChatGPT work? The language software model Generative Pretrained Transformer (GPT) is used, which is trained extensively with information from books, news articles, websites, and more. Through this software, people can write emails and complete other tedious tasks.
Global ChatGPT usage poses the potential risk of cybersecurity breaches or misinformation. It could also impact the way students complete their work as this software can help with essay writing, in which case this could be considered a form of academic dishonesty or plagiarism.
"But would it be considered plagiarism if you use ChatGPT to write your entire essay?” - Potluri'25

“I haven’t used the tool myself, but I have heard from my friends that it’s super helpful when writing essays.” said W&J student Pooja Potluri’25. “But would it be considered plagiarism if you use ChatGPT to write your entire essay?”
Interestingly, Nidhi Pulicherla’25 brought up the same concern.
"Global ChatGPT usage poses the potential risk of cybersecurity breaches or misinformation. It could also impact the way students complete their work as this software can help with essay writing,"

“I would use ChatGPT, but I’m not sure if my professors would allow it especially because they wouldn’t know what I wrote versus what the tool wrote.” said Pulicherla’25
Potluri and Pulicherla are some of many students who are interested in ChatGPT but are concerned about maintaining academic integrity. Professors from colleges across the country have also shared their opinions.
“I have started warning students during the initial meeting when we discuss my syllabus, that I do consider using ChatGPT or any other AI software to be a violation of Wofford’s Honor Code.” said Chapman professor of humanities Clayton Whisnant.
Conversely, there are some professors who are using ChatGPT themselves.
“I know some faculty in computer science are using it to write exam questions too, so it’s all going to get very circular going forward.” said Luke Zettlemoyer, a professor at the University of Washington Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.
Clearly, only time will tell how this software affects academia in the long-term.
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