ChatGPT or not ChatGPT? That is the question for nervous educators twitchy over this latest great leap forward in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Does the ChatGPT system give pupils an unfair advantage as it gathers and processes information and constructs very human answers?

Some fear it signals the end of reasoned thought and heralds an age of assisted thinking.

The International Baccalaureate does not appear to think so , this week sanctioning its use in examinations.

This is what you need to know about ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

Developed by the American AI research company, OpenAI, it is essentially a tool. You feed it information which allows it to respond to questions and inquiries with accurate dialogue. What’s impressive about this particular Chatbot, launched last November, is the level of intelligence and the fact its responses sound uncannily human. This human ‘voice’ originates from the sheer scale of its programming. According to Stanford University ChatGPT operates within 175 billion parameters and has been trained on 570 gigabytes of text.

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What has the reaction been?

Within the world of AI and software development, very positive. In the wider world? A nervous welcome in some quarters, outright bans and blacklisting in others.

Who has reacted negatively?

New York Public Schools were the first to issue an outright ban on its usage in January, for very obvious reasons. In India similar restrictions have been put in place by education where they have now banned all electronic devices in exam halls. As you’d expect, although for slightly different reasons, China are also reticent. They claim it is spreading American misinformation and say it will not be available to citizens. Financial services giant JP Morgan Chase is among several companies to bar its usage, ostensibly over privacy fears. 

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Who has been more positive?

The International Baccalaureate (IB).

The who?

A non-profit foundation based in Switzerland, offering programmes for students at primary, secondary and diploma/careers programme levels. An internationally recognised organisation, it works with education authorities worldwide, including in Spain and Japan. Pupils on IB programmes can use ChatGPT, but must clearly state where text has been used and credit ChatGPT as the source. Basically, they can quote ChatGPT in their essays but cannot pass the work off as their own.

Which approach will work best?

The IB are perhaps wise in establishing parameters. Outright bans will be tough to enforce, particularly as this technology advances at a startling late. This is the third ChatGPT model and 100 times the size of ChatGPT 2.