(ReliableNews.org) – On February 14, a gunman walked onto the Michigan State University (MSU) campus, killed three people and injured five others before turning the gun on himself. The community and the rest of the country were devastated by the senseless loss of life. Administrators from at least one college, and perhaps others, reached out to students, offering words of comfort and relaying the importance of “taking care of each other.”
The communication from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Office of Equity, Diversion and Inclusion seemed to be a way for the associate and assistant deans to connect with the college students. The only problem was the letter wasn’t entirely human. The administrators used ChatGPT to formulate the missive and were suspended for the misstep.
Details About the Letter and AI
Chat GPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) communications tool that uses prompts to generate text. The system can create poems, computer programs, essays, and letters that seem eerily human using information from across the internet. Vanderbilt University’s Associate Dean Nicole Joseph and Assistant Dean Hasina Mohyuddin thought it would be a good idea to use the program to generate a letter to students about the tragedy at MSU. The response, however, was anything but positive.
The communication started off with talking about how important it was to look out for each other with a focus on inclusion. It then detailed ways of building “strong relationships” with each other by accepting everyone’s differences and challenging pre-conceived biases. The letter ended with words encouraging the students to “come together as a community” and work toward a better future. In tiny print before the close of the message was a line stating the letter had been created by ChatGPT.
Vanderbilt senior Laith Kayat, whose sister goes to MSU, said the administrators using the AI program to generate the letter about such a tragedy was “disgusting.” Bethanie Stauffer, also a student, indicated the deans were lazy and found it ironic they used a computer program to write a letter about “community and togetherness” when they couldn’t lift a finger to reach out themselves. Other students reacted to the letter with disappointment, with one person saying the horrific event called for more “humanity,” not less.
Before Joseph stepped down from her position, she sent out an apology email, saying that using ChatGPT to generate the letter was in “poor judgment.” However, she agreed with the sentiment of the communication, but admitted she had more to learn about using AI effectively.
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