Does your professor pass the Turing test? (Ep. 537)
Emery Berger, Professor of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, joins Ben for a conversation about the impact of AI on academia. As a young sci-fi fan, he was fascinated by computers that could spit out solutions (a fascination that survived exposure to BASIC and COBOL). Now his CS students are using Copilot to do the same thing. How can educators (and students) adapt?
Professor Emery Berger is a systems builder who studies “programming languages, runtime systems, and operating systems, with a particular focus on systems that transparently improve reliability, security, and performance.”
AI giveth and AI taketh away: an incredible tool for developers is creating new challenges for CS educators and students. Read Emery’s 2022 essay “Coping with Copilot.”
You can also find Emery on GitHub or Twitter.
Today’s Lifeboat badge winner is mbcrump for their answer to How do I generate a random integer in C#?.
That’s a very good question to ask of many college professors, even without the existence of AI.
Artificial Intelligence is definitely no match for all-natural, organic, grass-fed, free-range stupidity.
…Which actually raises the question. If at some point in the future, something like ChatGPT could reliably NOT spew out confident nonsense, should it teach students? Imagine having a personal teacher for every student, with maybe a few backup teachers to answer the dozens of questions per 1k students per month or something.
Then again some teachers would never qualify for any job in their field outside of teaching! Which tells you something about teachers.
You don’t necessarily need artificial intelligence for computer-assisted learning. I don’t know the current state of educational software, but when I first started my career in the 80’s computers were supposed to revolutionize the learning process. Thirty years went by, and the state of the art had not improved all that much.
Students are part of the problem. Every moment of every day you see learners on Stack Overflow fail at posting a coherent question because they don’t know what they don’t know. ChatGPT is helpless under these conditions. The benefit of real teachers is that they can show you what you don’t know.