Reasons you shouldn't get ChatGPT to write your essays for you.

And also one big reason why you should still use it.

I’m very pro using A.I tools to enhance learning and improve workflow. But like any tool, it can be used well and it can be used in ways which are detrimental to the user.

Writing is more than just putting things on a page. It is how you learn and make connections. It is how you order and make sense of all the input coming your way. 

To not do your own writing will put you in a place where your learning is shallow. You will not have recall of key concepts in your subject that can be remembered and built upon unless you engage deeply with them.

Einstein said that the seventh wonder of the world was compound interest. Learning compounds in a similar way to money. Little by little, it adds up. In any subject, the writing is how you access your creativity. If you adopt shallow learning techniques, remember this may manifest itself down the line.

If you are a student or a young person going out into the world of work, what will differentiate you from people who are just as able as you to put a few prompts into an A.I. app as yourself? Your creativity. And this is a hard won thing, but it is something which gives joy. Also, why would you not want to practice your writing skills as much as possible. That is how you get better at it.

As Generative A.I. bases its replies on the data it was fed, it is not as good at leaps of imagination as you are. 

G.A.I is a black box. Even the people who built it aren’t entirely sure how it works. Yes, you can change the prompts, but you might find yourself with a piece of text that you need to rewrite. This is harder than rewriting something you wrote in the first place. It will be more work to improve it. 

Ernest Hemmingway said “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” Missing out on such an important part of ordering your thoughts will lead to a piece of work that won’t reflect your abilities. 

It’s a big issue that G.A.I gets things wrong quite a lot of the time. Companies such as Google are trying to ‘ground’ the data more, so this is less of a problem. However, when you are writing an essay you need to be right. So it’ll always be a problem. G.A.I always feels the need to write something, even if it’s nonsense. And at times it can really write nonsense about subjects where there wasn’t much training data. It has ‘hallucinations’, the term researchers coined for when it goes postal. 

In conclusion, be very careful when using these tools, and be clear of your intentions. There are a lot of areas where it can supercharge your learning, if that is your intention.

So how to use it? It is excellent for building up a frame of reference about a subject. You can use it to find leads on interesting sources, papers, people who are writing or talking about a subject. And then you can go to the source and you’ll have a better foundation on which to build.

I wrote more about this process in this post - How to Leverage A.I. in your lifelong learning journey.


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