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Would You Like to have, educational AI on Steroids?

Julkaistu: 30.10.2023

With its new plugins, the AI ChatGPT can now access current information. This has significantly increased its utility in education.

The potential of conversational AI in educational activities has been doubted for various reasons. One major criticism has been the AI’s ignorance of recent events, such as Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. How useful is an AI that knows nothing about the events of the past couple of years? Except, now it does know: about Russia’s war of aggression and everything else.

The Magic Word: Plugins

The development of conversational AI has continued to be rapid. A new milestone was reached in May when OpenAI opened a “plugin store.” Currently, there are about 1300 plugins available, which have taken ChatGPT’s functionality and usability to a new level. Simply put, conversational AI is no longer a prisoner of its own language model (training material). The whole internet, including news as recent as a minute old, is now open.

Plugins can be described as small software components or utilities. Most of them are free in this case, but some are paid, and others are in between. There’s, for example, a free version, but a more advanced version might be paid. An unlimited number of plugins can be downloaded for use, but currently, only three plugins can be activated simultaneously for one chat session.

The most popular plugins seem to be those that open the path to the internet for AI. For example, the YouTube Summaries plugin can read YouTube video subtitles and create summaries. The prompt could be  example, “Create a five-slide presentation from this video [give a link] and translate it into Swedish.” For this kind of task, one have to activated the plugins YouTube Summaries, Web Pilot, and Slide Maker. Initially, GPT-4 uses the first two mentioned plugins to produce a Finnish listing of the video’s key content. Then it announces that it will translate the content into Swedish and make the slides. At the same time, a notification appears that the Slide Maker plugin has been used, and a link appears in the response field, leading to, where the slides (1+5) are already waiting for my editing. I can also download them directly from there, for example, in pptx format. All this took about 20 seconds. Amazing!

The Web Pilot plugin, which enables information search from a specified website, seems particularly interesting. Using this plugin, I ask the AI to make summaries and slide presentations, even using extensive websites. The results of various analyses and article drafts are impressive. Sometimes the AI performs the given tasks wonderfully well. Other times, the result is formulaic and cut-and-paste-like.

However, it’s good to remember that we might not necessarily want a result better than our own capabilities. The better the results produced by AI, the less need there is for human labor in its current form. This is, of course, a great opportunity, but it can also be a threat.

Too Good to Be True?

With the plugins, the most significant limitation of large language models seems to have been removed – that is, access to data outside the AI’s training material. In just a few months, the capabilities of conversational AI have grown significantly.

Has the free lunch also been invented in this context, one might ask. As I hinted earlier, unfortunately, this is not the case. To access these new fantastic features, you have to pay $20 per month. Without money, these new superpowers are not available. It should be noted, however, that the price includes other new features, such as the minor personalization possibility of the AI.

But many – both teachers and students – now need to consider whether such a monthly investment is worth it. Before deciding, it’s a good idea to also check out other AI offerings. In late September, extensions were launched in connection with Google’s conversational AI Bard, which increase Bard’s capabilities in a way similar to plugins. The basic idea of the extensions is to provide Bard with access to Google’s other services, such as Google Maps.

The education sector once again has new things to consider regarding AI development. Undoubtedly, the worst option is to bury one’s head in the sand and act as if nothing is happening. A transformation in learning and teaching is underway. The change is so significant that it creates new winners. Unfortunately, the possibility of “falling off the wagon” is now exceptionally high.

But even though the recent leaps in development are significant, I still hold my old view: we have not seen much yet.

This blog post was originally published in Finnish on Sykli´s website on 30.10.2023

Ari Laitala

The author Ari Laitala works at the Finnish Environmental College Sykli as an expert. Sykli has just launched a new course: Artificial Intelligence as a Teachers’ Workmate. The course is taking place within the Erasmus+ mobility framework and participants from Erasmus+ accredited learning institutions can be subsidised by Erasmus+ funding. (+358 50566 8998)

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