Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Wizard of AI

Based on the two or three students who consistently use it according to the evidence of (1) my own eyes and (2) GPTZero, AI produces papers that are matched in grandiloquence only by Frank Morgan, AKA The Wizard of Oz. 

You remember the Wizard, right? All smoke and mirrors with nothing behind it? No powers, just word-shaped noise from a bloviating charlatan. 



If I read one more content-free BS paragraph about the "nuances" of the "rich tapestry" of "intriguing" deep dives into the injustices of the "structural inequity of gender norms" by a writer whose "magnificent prose" has made her work "a landmark in the history of twenty-first century literature,"  I might lose my temper, or my lunch. 

Really, though, it's always my temper that I lose, in a "how can I stop this?" way. I waste perfectly good ideas-in-the-shower time by plotting ways to circumvent it, which means it lives in my head much more than the 10 seconds it took the students to churn out this insult to human intelligence.

And I may be going against the tide. This so-called "article" at CNN--written by AI? who's to say?-- says to embrace the bloviation and advises teachers to go with the flow and grade with AI. 

But listen up, CNN shills: reading student work is not only literally my job; it is also my pleasure. I like to see students grow and learn. If I didn't, I'm in the wrong profession. (Figure 2, opposite, is me making this argument. Blogger won't allow captions any more, for some reason.) 

And there are problems with just accepting its use, as the CNN shills and some colleagues in the profession have advocated.

1. There is no reason on God's green earth why I should read what students could not be bothered to write

2. It harms honest students and lowers morale if some students are using AI and "getting away with it" by having high grades. Spoiler alert: they do not get high grades because there is no there there, so to speak; the AI doesn't have to enter into the grading equation itself if the paper is content-free. But a D+ or C- is still a passing grade, and if the student doesn't care about the course, that's enough to pass.

3. The students have ideas, and they need to be encouraged to develop them.

So what's the solution? 

1. Writing first drafts in class, which is going swimmingly, by the way.

2. A much more robust and specific policy on academic integrity and the use of AI. It's too late for this semester, but it's there for next semester. 

 The Wizard of Oz used to be televised exactly once a year, at Easter. Although it's more available nowadays, the Easter rule still holds: I do not want to listen to the Wizard of Oz any more often than that.