NYC schools block access to ChatGPT over cheating concerns

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New York City’s Department of Education has banned ChatGPT from school devices and networks due to concerns that the controversial artificial-intelligence tool will fuel cheating and misinformation, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

Since its release in November, ChatGPT has triggered alarm among educators who fear it lead to academic dishonesty by allowing students to easily generate essays and other assignments by pressing a few keys.

“Due to concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content, access to ChatGPT is restricted on New York City Public Schools’ networks and devices,” department of education spokesperson Jenna Lyle said in a statement.

“While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success,” Lyle added.

ChatGPT has fueled a debate about the use of AI in schools.
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Developed by research firm OpenAI, ChatGPT is a “chat bot” that has rapidly gained popularity in recent months for its uncanny ability to generate humanlike responses to user prompts. The tool is capable of producing high-quality responses on an array of topics and in many forms, including essays, poetry and even jokes.

The DOE will allow individual schools to access ChatGPT if they plan to study the underlying technology behind AI, according to the report. The ban also won’t impact attempts to access ChatGPT on “non-education devices or internet networks.”

Chalkbeat New York was first to report on the ban.

OpenAI’s website notes that ChatGPT uses a dialogue-based format that allows it to “answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”

The technology is not foolproof, and ChatGPT can still produce inaccurate information or false information while generating its responses. Critics have expressed concern that the ChatGPT tool’s shortcomings will amplify misinformation and inappropriate content without proper safeguards in place.

Last month, a college professor in South Carolina told The Post that he had caught one of his students using ChatGPT to generate an essay on the 18th-century philosopher David Hume and the paradox of horror, the concept that people can get enjoyment from something they fear.

Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy
The NYC department of education is blocking access to ChatGPT.
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Furman University assistant philosophy professor Darren Hick said content produced by ChatGPT is recognizable, adding the tool “writes like a very smart 12th-grader.”

“This is learning software — in a month, it’ll be smarter. In a year, it’ll be smarter,” he said. “I feel the mix myself between abject terror and what this is going to mean for my day-to-day job — but it’s also fascinating, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

ChatGPT is already surfacing on new initiatives within the business world. This week, reports surfaced that Microsoft is planning to add ChatGPT functionality to its Bing search engine as part of its effort to lure users away from Google.



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