[Photo courtesy of SIO Africa]

By Samuel White

Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (ChatGPT) founded by the tech company Open AI was released in November 2022 and has taken the student world by storm.

The AI tool with several tricks up its sleeve, including answering questions, drafting emails, writing essays, and many more, has also taken the student world by storm in that it has proven effective in helping students worldwide in writing essays and assignments.

Before November, students depended on freelancers who did their assignments at a fee and went to levels where at times the freelancers would get access to student portals to submit assignments on behalf of the students. The students who could not afford to pay freelancers on a regular now stand to benefit hugely from the free AI tool and leading to a decline in pay for freelance writers.

Collins, a 27-year-old who talks to Rest of World, says that there was a time when he would get approximately 50- 70 assignments and would earn approximately 90-120,000 Kenya shillings a month. Since the launch of ChatGPT, Collins’s earnings have dropped to 50-80,000 Kenya shillings a month. Many people depended on this-online writing as it is formally called-as their source of livelihood, and this is just the beginning of the downfall.

Several students on the school campus, Daystar University, have admitted to using ChatGPT to complete their assignments. On asking why they use the platform, one student who asked to remain anonymous said, “Sometimes ChatGPT helps one complete an assignment that one forgot to do in time and submit in time and not have to worry about plagiarism.”

Some students had differing opinions on the matter, for example, Wycliff Carson, a business economics student at Daystar University said, “ChatGPT is good when one uses it to support his or her own genuine work but dangerous to the student, the society, and the world in the long run if the student entirely depends on it to do each and every assignment, and even more dangerous when this becomes a trend with students influencing each other into depending on ChatGPT.” He continued, “New ways should be found to curb the irregularity around the use of ChatGPT.”

In another interview with a lecturer at Daystar University in the School of Communication, Mr. Henry Neondo, said, “It is not legal, it is a mark of intellectual dishonesty. The challenge is that currently, there are no plagiarism checkers against work by ChatGPT.”

While ChatGPT is an effective tool that benefits most students, it could help promote vices such as laziness, and illiteracy with most students graduating without the knowledge or idea of how to write an essay or the theoretical part of the course they study.

Open AI, the tech company responsible for the creation of ChatGPT should find ways around the misuse of the platform especially among students. Unless this is done, we have a long way to save ourselves from the rabbit hole that we are digging ourselves into.

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