New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Guest Essay: NYU wants your opinion about AI tools

Clay Shirky is the university’s vice provost for AI and technology in education.
DALL·E, the image generation AI system created by OpenAI — the same corporation behind ChatGPT — created part of this illustration. (Illustration generated with DALL·E, edited by Samson Tu)

All of NYU is adapting to the arrival of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot or Midjourney, but students are adapting faster than faculty or the administration. And despite press coverage that assumes plagiarism is the only possible use case, whenever we talk with students, we hear smart and engaged thinking about pros and cons of generative AI. Our problem is that there are not many forums where we can hear from you.

So I come to you with a proposition: Tell us what you think. If you’re experimenting with AI, give us feedback and advice. What’s working and what’s not? What tools do you like, what techniques do you find effective, what are your instructors saying that make it clear what’s allowed and what isn’t? What exercises or assignments integrate AI well? And so on.

We’re asking for your opinions and feedback here. Your answers will be confidential — we’re trying to figure out how NYU as a whole should adapt to these tools, not to identify individual uses or users. We’ll share the results in aggregate (though for obvious reasons, we won’t be able to share individual responses). We won’t be able to act on every suggestion, but we’ll read everything you share with us. And send this to your friends — we want to hear from them too.

We’re also interested in interviewing you, if you’re willing, to get a better picture of how AI is fitting into your academic work. These interviews can be in person or online, and will also be confidential — if you’re open to being interviewed, you can tell us on the form.

ChatGPT has only been around for a year and it’s already clear it’s going to transform higher education, but that transition is going to take 20 semesters, not two. We are all — you, your faculty, we administrators — in the first cohort of people to use these tools, and NYU needs your help figuring out what’s working now and what’s coming next.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected].

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