While we will have in-class workshops on responsible uses of AI text generation, and while all assignment prompts will have specific AI guidelines, it is also important to discuss the general approach to AI adopted in this class.
I work from three core assumptions: first, many of you use applications like ChatGPT, and will continue to use them in the future, professionally and otherwise. Second, these applications have some legitimate utility. And third, these applications have some significant liabilities.
Given these realities, one of the core learning objectives for this class is to develop your capacity to responsibly use AI text generation both now and moving forward.
Here are some key thoughts on AI text generation that I believe must be balanced in any “responsible use” of AI in this course and elsewhere:
AI text generators are sources, just like websites or other sources, and they should be treated as such. Transparency is the key here – always make sure readers know how and where you are getting your information. This can be done in an acknowledgments section, a methods section, in the body text, and/or through direct quotation/citation.
Writing is cognitively valuable. If you have someone else do pushups for you, you will not get the muscles. If you want the muscles, you need to do the pushups yourself. The same goes for writing. Research shows that it is critical for professional identity formation!
That said, lots of writing is formulaic and template-driven, and there is no intrinsic problem with using relevant models from AI text generators or elsewhere as a starting point.
This course emphasizes argumentation, localization, and audience – all of which require good decision-making practices on the part of the writer. AI cannot make good decisions – about writing or about anything, really – without good prompts from the writer.
AI text generators will steal anything you put into them, which limits their professional use.
In brief, in this course, you will learn to work WITH algorithmic writing applications – to verify their content, to adapt and paraphrase and quote as appropriate, and to use this instance as an opportunity to think more broadly about AI’s potential impacts on our personal and professional lives.
If I intuit that AI text generators are negatively affecting your writing – by making it too boilerplate, for example – we will have a conversation about how you have used them and how you might use them better in the future.
And if you have questions about whether a particular use of algorithmic writing is acceptable, bring the question to me after class, during class, over email, or during office hours. I’m actively seeking them!