UNSW academics make waves discussing ChatGPT on social media

17 Feb 2023
Professor Toby Walsh, Professor Cath Ellis, Associate Professor Sam Kirshner and Professor Lyria Bennett Moses sitting in a panel

In an event livestreamed on social media, Professor Toby Walsh, Professor Cath Ellis, Associate Professor Sam Kirshner and Professor Lyria Bennett Moses discussed ChatGPT, followed by a lively Reddit thread.

ChatGPT, a language artificial intelligence (AI), has caught significant media attention recently for its ability generate human-like responses to written prompts. Trained on vast amounts of data from the internet, it uses machine learning algorithms to analyse and understand language patterns.

In an hour-long panel event, the academics covered the implications of the technology, especially in the teaching space where it is already making us rethink how students learn and how we assess them.

The livestream was a hit on LinkedIn and YouTube, with many users sharing their thoughts and questions. The broadcast gained over 21,000 impressions and 8700 views across the two channels.

The panel also discussed some of the positives of using ChatGPT and similar AI. This included its potential as a non-judgemental tutor, its benefits for neurodivergent people, and ways we can use it ethically, legally and responsibly. Also, in an era of accelerating AI development, lifelong learning is more important than ever, and universities have a critical role in providing continuous professional development.

After the panel session, Prof. Toby Walsh participated in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) forum on Reddit. It ‘exploded’ on the platform, with over 1.6 million people viewing the thread, 1100 comments, 1200 shares, and countless interested questions and comments.

The Reddit conversation ranged from the limits of AI technology, the democratisation of art, and data privacy concerns, to its threat to some industries. AI is already replacing some menial work, providing benefits to some workers while jeopardising others.

“Hopefully AI will do the 4 Ds – the dirty, dull, difficult and the dangerous,” Prof. Walsh said on Reddit.

“But equally they might change warfare, disrupt politics, not in a good way, and cause other harms to our society. It’s up to us to work out where to let AI into our lives and where not to let AI in.”

Lifelong learning and the role of universities was also discussed on the ‘AMA forum.

Prof. Walsh responded, “Your education isn’t going to finish when you leave university but will go on for as long as you work, and new technologies arrive at ever-increasing rates.”