Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the big bad or the big good that changes everything about how our world operates. Terminator fans might fear robot overlords taking over. Ideally however, AI is nothing to fear as long as we understand it is a tool that must be used ethically and responsibly. Essentially, being a responsible creator and consumer of AI content means we must have at least a basic understanding of the backend workings, pulling back the curtain on the humble little men who pretend they are great wizards. starts picking apart basic AI workings in its article “AI Literacy, Explained.”

First off, every student, every person really, needs to have at least some exposure to AI because it is something that is going to affect everyone’s daily lives, not just those interested in computer science careers. It is more important than ever to be able to think critically about the media we are bombarded with, parsing through what is true and what is suspect or biased.

ChatGPT and Open AI are the key tech giants at play here that have conglomerated all this fanciful, out-of-this-world computer capability to do unprecedented creative tasks, such as write an entire essay about the dangers of black holes, create photo realistic pictures and even formulate computer code. Their official emergence only occurred in late 2022, but the influence of this Pandora’s box has exploded all over the internet, from social media to all aspects of business. Interestingly enough, Elon Musk and other tech leaders have recently called for a pause in the development of AI models and pleaded for government intervention out of fear that the ‘AI Race’ has spiraled out of control and could have negative societal implications. Read more about that in CNN’S “Elon Musk and other tech leaders call for pause in ‘out of control’ AI race”.

In general, the public at large, especially students and rising professionals, will need to be aware of how AI can impact their lives. The goal is that AI becomes a tool used ethically and responsibly, while we also learn how to identify if sources might not be reliable.

Educational Benefits and Cautions Regarding AI Use

So much of the backend heavy lifting of our favorite everyday apps and tools utilize AI to function. It touches pretty much every aspect of our digital lives. Regarding how it impacts college students, just look to the countless applications, platforms and tools that have already incorporated AI in some form or fashion.

If you have ever used educational platforms, such as Coursera, Khan Academy, Quizlet or similar programs, then you benefited from an AI-powered learning experience tailored to your individual needs. The AI algorithms that allow these programs to function utilize algorithms that comb through user data to provide personalized recommendations, quiz materials, exercises and games to enable students to absorb concepts in an efficient manner.

AI is also helpful in streamlining research, assisting in locating relevant scholarly articles, as well as assistance in crafting citations and providing clarity suggestions. And if you have ever used a language learning tool like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, you were unintentionally becoming acquainted with the language of AI in addition to the foreign language skills you practiced. AI utilizes astounding processing power to create useful content and tools at a speed that isn’t possible through human effort alone. As a global community, we are just touching the surface of all that AI can potentially do, but that potential doesn’t come without pitfalls.

When it comes to college students and the scholastic field in general, cheating using AI tools is a common concern. has started to examine the phenomenon in their article “56% of College Students Have Used AI on Assignments or Exams.” BestColleges surveyed 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students to gain some insight on AI. Granted, that sample size might be a bit small to be truly representative of the collegiate population, but it is a start to get some idea of where the current state of affairs lies. There are many compelling revelations brought up in the article, but chief among them is that 54 percent of students surveyed agreed that using AI tools to complete assignments or exams is cheating, yet 56 percent of them also admitted to having used AI on an assignment or exam. There are software programs being developed and improved that may help mitigate this concern somewhat, but the effectiveness of those measures remains to be seen.

Over half of students surveyed reported coursework that required AI use as part of the assignment, and just under 80 percent of students mentioned that at least one educator discussed the use of ethics of AI in class. Whether we like it or not, AI is here to stay, so students and professionals will have to learn to use it effectively and ethically, as well as be especially on guard for clues of deception in media and advertising going forward.

P.S. Could you tell that portions of this article utilized AI assistance? Remember, a tool is neutral until it is exposed to the bias of the person or persons wielding it.

References for further reflections: 

  • Sarkar, M. (2019). Artificial intelligence in education: A review. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 22(2), 196-206.
  • Dong, R., Zhang, X., Li, Y., & Huang, R. (2021). Artificial Intelligence Technology in Education: Development Trends and Challenges. IEEE Access, 9, 58190-58202.
  • Qiu, X., Liu, Y., Feng, F., & Liu, Y. (2021). An overview of artificial intelligence in language learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 69(3), 1057-1076.

For those interested in learning more about STEM careers, take a look at Life U’s B.S in Computer Information Systems & Technology degree.


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