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Comp-Sci Students Give Their Take on Artificial Intelligence

Monmouth University’s Polling Institute released the results of its national survey “Artificial Intelligence Use Prompts Concerns” on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

According to the Polling Institute’s website, “Awareness of AI (Artificial Intelligence) developments has increased over the past decade, but opinion about its potential impact remains largely unchanged, with a few exceptions.” The survey reported that nine in ten Americans now recognize the term ‘artificial intelligence,’ which represents a 19 percent increase from 2015.

“Since we last asked these questions eight years ago, you would think people would have become more comfortable with AI as they use it more. One of the problems seems to be that many, if not most Americans, do not realize the extent to which they already rely on AI in their daily lives,” reflected Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute.

As described in the survey, “Thirty-five percent of the public reports hearing a lot about recent artificial intelligence developments regarding the ability of computers and machines to carry out decision-making thought processes similar to humans.”

However, Murray elaborated on how AI is not limited to the latest developments; rather, the technology people regularly use today employs elements of AI.

“When I asked my class how many regularly use AI, only one raised a hand. Then, when I mentioned common AI applications, such as search engines and voice recognition, a light bulb went off,” explained Murray. “However, I think the big headlines around AI are their failures, such as problems with self-driving technology and culturally based errors in facial recognition. This leads to a strange dynamic where we become more fearful of the potential downsides of artificial intelligence, yet, at the same time, we rely on AI apps more and more to manage our own lives.”

While awareness of AI is on the rise, the survey said “only one in ten Americans believe computer scientists’ ability to develop AI would do more good than harm to society.” Likewise, “a majority [of those polled] say that artificially intelligent machines would hurt humans’ overall quality of life.”

The Outlook interviewed three senior Monmouth students, all of whom are studying computer science, to consider a more knowledge-based perspective and address some of the public’s major concerns.

Yosef Davidowitz
What is your experience with AI?
Last semester, I took Survey Artificial Intelligence Concepts Practices. AI is also an interest of mine, and I did a presentation on the ethics of machine learning for my Ethics and Professionalism in Science and Engineering last spring.

What are your general predictions for how AI will be used from now into the future?
There’s a lot of excitement and discussion about AI right now, but I think that it will be a while before people start to understand the limitations of AI in order to use it properly. For example, there have been discussions about the possibility of AI replacing writers and artists; however, this is ultimately unsustainable— AI works by relying on human generated data and cannot truly come up with anything totally unique. In the future, I do think AI may be used by writers and artists for help in generating rough drafts or ideas.

Do you believe AI technology will increase the rate of cheating in schools? How should professors combat this?
I think AI will increase the rate of cheating in schools, but only temporarily. First off, companies such as Open AI, the creators of the popular AI text generators Chat GPT, have already released tools that can detect AI generated text with 26 percent accuracy. While these tools alone aren’t the most accurate, they can assist teachers or professors who already have strong suspicions that an assignment is AI generated.
Furthermore, while AI text generators, such as Chat GPT, can create comprehensible text, they are not good at writing text that is factually accurate. Text generation AI does not understand what it writes; it simply uses algorithms to output text that is mathematically similar to material that it has been fed.

Zoë Klapman
What is your experience with AI?
The summer before my junior year, I worked on a face recognition project that utilized machine learning, a subset of AI. Using OpenCV and Haar Cascades, I used Python to create this project that recognizes faces with the computer camera.

Do you believe AI technology will increase the rate of cheating in schools? How should professors combat this?
I don’t think AI will increase the rate of cheating in schools; rather, it will help students as a study tool. For example, in my operating systems class, I was confused on a concept and used ChatGPT to help explain to me the terms in other words. The answer not only helped me understand that term, but it related the concept to other vocabulary, helping me review outside of class.

If professors are worried about cheating, they should do what they feel is right on their behalf. Classes of different subjects vary immensely; every experience and opinion varies on the professor. In the other computer science courses, such as the AI course for example, it makes sense to use AI and learn from experience by engaging with the technology.

Do you predict AI will be used for good or bad?
AI will definitely be used for good—that is the purpose of developing new technology. The advancements in AI will help improve upon already existing features, as well as lead to creation of new technologies in the future in areas like agricultural tech, financial tech, and biotechnology.

Skyler Smith
What is your experience with AI?
I have had some experience using AI. I developed simple AI programs in Python to answer users’ questions, such as what the weather is, what the AI feels, and knowing the active user’s country based on the time zone. I’ve also used several popular and upcoming programs such as ChatGPT and Nightcafé.

Do you predict AI will be used for good or bad?
We have seen a huge breakthrough in AI software within the past year and it will only continue to advance. As AI is increasingly at the forefront of today’s news, we have seen articles about the benefits that the software can bring; nonetheless, this exposure should be moderated as this type of advanced programming can be used for nefarious purposes. I predict that as AI gets more powerful, more hackers and cybercriminals will use it for unlawful purposes.