Is Chat GPT paving the way to a less intelligent society?

March 21, 2023

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By now, everyone’s used ChatGPT to look something up. Whether it was a quick refresher on a topic for class, or a check for any errors in your work, or to write a Sinterklaas poem, ChatGPT was there. At first, many, including my cynical self, were skeptical that ChatGPT would work, and would actually prove useful. However, I am continually blown away by its capabilities and within the blink of an eye, this AI chatbot has become a staple in my and almost everyone’s lives. I notice myself reaching for ChatGPT more and more, to the point where it has almost become my friend. Whilst this is beautiful in a certain sense, bridging the gap between technology and humanity, this has also led me to become spoiled by its endless possibilities.

Have you noticed that you are now asking ChatGPT things that you probably could have worked out yourself, if you put in the effort? I certainly have. I am sure many high schoolers are using ChatGPT to complete homework tasks and assignments, purely as an easy way out of doing any actual work. It seems ideal: no plagiarism, a low probability of there being false information, and written in “human” English (or whichever language you prefer). The only downfall is that if we do this, we are not learning anything. Some may say that that is no downfall, but others will see how this may prevent us from advancing further in intelligence.

Part of what makes humanity so amazing is its ability to learn. We process information and have the ability to learn and improve from mistakes. This starts from the day you are born and never stops. As we learn, we challenge our brain’s cognitive skills, and the more we do this, through school, or puzzles, or reading, our brain grows and improves over time, a process called brain plasticity. Additionally, this improves creativity and intellect, which has led to a wealth of inventions and developments in every field. It is exactly this that created chatbots such as ChatGPT. If we stop doing this, the brain, just like the muscles in our body, will deteriorate and become weaker over time. Whilst there is no evidence that has linked this to getting any brain diseases, or Alzheimer’s, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that skills we once learned will go away. This is actually very logical. For example, if you never read another book or article for the rest of your life, your reading ability will decrease significantly. So, exercising our brain, just like exercising our body, is essential to staying healthy.

Thus, this begs the question: is ChatGPT stopping us from exercising our brain? In certain ways, yes, we now have an easy way out for finding solutions to problems. ChatGPT can aid in almost every aspect, whether creative or academic. This means we are no longer carrying out brain plasticity in the same way. We do not have to think or work as hard to get to the same outcome anymore. Who knows, maybe I even asked ChatGPT to write this article for me! If we look at the research, stopping brain plasticity may cause atrophy of the brain and we may indeed become less intelligent than before, or at least lazier. Essentially, ChatGPT can solve most problems with little to no fault, so the need for humans to put in the effort to do any work themselves seems much less worthwhile. We could become heavily reliant on artificial intelligence, resulting in a lack of self-dependence and a decrease in the need to be intelligent. This could cause a downward spiral of increasing laziness, which would be detrimental to societal progress. 

However, to what extent is this really true? People were terrified that after the mainstream introduction of mobile phones people would become less intelligent. For example, people are now able to set reminders for activities on their phone, rather than having to memorise. Did this lead to a lazier society? Most will argue no, because look how far we have come intelligence-wise. In addition, ChatGPT is also allowing us to learn in new ways. It even has the ability to write texts and give us ideas that we by ourselves may not have ever been able to come up with. We are also now able to learn more efficiently, work faster and achieve a better outcome. ChatGPT is a great tool to that can inspire, not quash, creativity, by offering information or solutions to problems that we have never thought of before. Due to its user friendliness, almost everyone is able to reap the benefits of it, bridging the intelligence gap within our society. This is surely a good thing? Making information and education accessible to as many people as possible surely makes society more intelligent than before, not less intelligent? So, just as mobile phones did not cause a lazy and unintelligent society, chatbots such as ChatGPT may only boost our intelligence and be an important aid for the future.

Whilst artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT are becoming a pivotal tool in modern society, it is harsh to say that they are making us more stupid. Personally, I believe that despite the inevitable laziness that has come as a result of the introduction of ChatGPT, society will at some point learn to use these tools to in fact become more intelligent. Humanity does this every time a new invention takes over, whether its internet, mobile phones or cars, we have never become less intelligent. We have adapted and used these inventions to become more intelligent, so why should that be any different with ChatGPT? We will be able to reach new goals much faster, due to the aid of ChatGPT. Our creativity can also be boosted due to the world of new opportunities that ChatGPT has opened us up to. Of course, the only way to see the consequences of ChatGPT is to put it to the test of time… and who knows what that will bring.

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