The U.S.’s second-largest teachers’ union, The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has teamed up with a tech company that identifies when students employ artificial intelligence for their homework. 

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AFT recently inked a partnership with GPTZero, a platform equipped to detect content generated by AI systems like ChatGPT. This collaboration aims to assist educators in monitoring and managing students’ dependence on such advanced technology.

“ChatGPT can be a really important supplement and complement to educators if the guardrails are in place,” AFT president Randi Weingarten told CBS MoneyWatch. “And the guardrails have to be about privacy and security and things like that.”

Weingarten is confident that AI has a significant role to play in educational settings. The potential of AI to augment learning and teaching is undeniable, and rather than opposing it, the focus should be on harnessing its capabilities effectively and ethically.

“We believe in its potential and we know if we don’t guard against its perils upfront, we’re going to repeat the terrible transitions that happened with the industrial revolution,” she said. 

Weingarten believes that tools like those offered by GPTZero are essential in bridging the gap between AI and education. They enable educators and students to leverage generative AI constructively, ensuring that technology enhances the learning experience rather than complicating it. This collaboration promises mutual benefits, fostering an environment where AI and human intelligence coexist and complement each other.

“You can’t stop technology and innovation. You need to ride it and harness it and that’s what we are talking to our members about,” she said. 

GPTZero, established by recent Princeton alumnus Edward Tian and his small yet dedicated team, has created specialized tools designed for both educators and students. Their innovations aim to enhance the learning environment, offering solutions that are applicable for those teaching the classes and those attending them, facilitating a more interactive and enriched educational experience.

“We’re committed together to figuring out the applications of AI in classrooms, and building GPTZero to be the best pedagogical solution for teachers and students to collaborate together in adopting AI,” Tian told the media.

Weingarten highlights the positive impacts of AI on the teaching profession. She counters the notion that educators are technologically adverse, pointing out that many are already skillful in integrating tech tools into their teaching methods. In her view, AI is another advancement that can be harnessed to enrich the educational experience for both teachers and students. 

“It can hugely reduce paperwork burdens, bureaucratic burdens, and it can help with the writing of lesson plans,” she said of AI technology. “I think there is huge potential here, but we have to be sober about it. We cannot pretend that it is a panacea, but have to hope and push for the kind of ethical regulations that are necessary so that it doesn’t destroy.”

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