The time has come for all of us to have THE TALK with our kids.
Not THAT talk! Rather, THE TALK about A.I. Chatbots!
I’ve been keeping A.I. under wraps since I read about ChatGPT in The Atlantic in December 2022. Then I read this “The A.I. Chatbots Have Arrived. Time to Talk to Your Kids” last week, which made me realize I need to talk to my daughter about A.I. before someone else does. As important as I think it is for people to do their own writing, I’ve come to understand — through a lot of reading about A.I. — that there are many benefits to using A.I. chatbots.
But first, I needed to talk to Marc about A.I. to get on the same page. A.I. isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time for us to decide how we will and won’t sanction Isabelle to use it as parents. (In late January, when Melanie Meehan and I recorded “The Benefits of Teaching Writing Through a Workshop Approach” with Olivia Wahl for her Schoolutions podcast, I admitted to keeping A.I. hidden from Isabelle. You can listen from 37:20 – 39:45 if you want to hear me talk about this.)
This morning, we played with the Poe app, which allows you to try out a variety of A.I.-powered bots. I kept feeding Poe’s A.I. chatbots prompts to show Marc how they did writing essays on everything from Civil War battles to writing a Bat Mitzvah speech. He noticed that the essays it crafted in less than 15 seconds were better than decent. I explained to Marc that while the chatbots’ essays were good enough, they lacked voice. (I told Marc about Michel de Montaigne, who wrote in the French countryside for pleasure and called his attempts at writing, essaying, which is the French word for trying.) We also talked about GPTZero, which can detect whether a human created a writing piece or used A.I..
Throughout the day, Marc and I have circled back to A.I. and its implications on everything from essay writing to practicing medicine. On our car ride home from King of Prussia, I was trying to distract myself from a miserable (albeit healthy) decision I made not to buy myself a milkshake for the car ride home. (Marc, Isabelle, and Ari bought milkshakes for the drive home.) I decided to task Poe with some mentor text work by telling its various chatbots to write a poem in the style of “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams that dealt with drinking too much of a milkshake.
Most ELA teachers would know the first, second, and third poems were created with A.I. since Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” does not rhyme!
GPT-4 produced the only poem that could pass muster. (GPT-4 is more advanced relative to ChatGPT. It is supposed to be better at creative writing, solving problems, and following instructions.) I attempted to run it through GPTZero, but couldn’t analyze what GPT-4 produced because it was too short.
Now that the day is drawing to a close, I have two parting thoughts:
- Before talking to my kids, I have more tinkering I need to do with A.I. Chatbots.
- I need to get that milkshake out of my head!