Chatbots as a critical thinking lesson. So a teacher uses ChatGPT to map out a class, and its limitations tell volumes.

Standing in front of her class, Abby Hahn, - the computing teacher, knew her students might be shocked by the subject. Faulty face-matching technology has helped lead to the false arrests of Black men.

So Ms. Hahn alerted her pupils that the class would be discussing sensitive topics like racism and sexism. Then she played a YouTube video, created in 2018 by Joy Buolamwini, a computer scientist, showing how some popular facial analysis systems mistakenly identified Black women as men.

As the class watched the video, some students gasped. Oprah Winfrey ''appears to be male,'' Amazon's technology said with 76.5 percent confidence, according to the video.

Other sections of the video said that Microsoft's system had mistaken Michelle Obama for a young man wearing a black shirt,'' and that IBM's system had pegged Serena Williams as ''male'' with 89 percent confidence.

{ Microsoft and Amazon later announced accuracy improvements to their systems, and IBM stopped selling such tools. Amazon said it was committed to continuously improving its facial analysis technology through customer feedback and collaboration with researchers, and Microsoft and IBM said they were committed to responsible development of A.I.]

''I'm shocked at how colored women are seen as men, even though they look nothing like men,'' Nadia Zadine, a 14-year-old student said. '' Does Joe Biden know about this this?''

The point of the A.I. bias lesson, Ms. Hahn said, was to show student programmers that computer algorithms can be faulty, just like cars and other products designed by humans, and to encourage them to challenge problematic technologies.

As part of Ms. Shuman's lesson, the 11th and 12th graders read news articles about how ChatGPT could be both useful and error-prone. They also read social media posts about how the chatbot could be prompted to generate texts and promoting hate and violence.

But the students could not try ChatGPT in class themselves. The school district has blocked it over concerns that it could be used for cheating. So the students asked Ms. Shuman to use the chatbot to create a lesson for the class as an experiment.

Ms. Shuman spent hours at home prompting the system to generate a lesson on wearable technology like smartwatches. In response to her specific requests, ChatGPT produced a remarkably detailed 30-minute lesson plan - complete with a warm-up discussion, readings on wearable technology, inclass exercises and a wrap-up discussion.

As the class period began, Ms. Shuman asked the students to spend 20 minutes following the scripted lesson, as if it were a real class on wearable technology. Then they would analyze ChatGPT's effectiveness as a simulated teacher.

Huddled in small groups, students read aloud information the bot had generated on the conveniences, health benefits, brand names and market values of smartwatches and fitness trackers.

There were groans as students read out ChatGPT's anodyne sentences  -

''Examples of smart glasses include Google Glass Enterprise 2'' - that they said sounded like marketing copy.

'' It reminded me of fourth grade,'' Jayda Arias, 18, said. ''It was very bland.''

The class found the lessons stultifying compared with those by Ms. Shuman, a charismatic teacher who creates course materials for her specific students, asks them provocative questions and comes up with relevant, real-world examples on the fly.

''The only effective part of this lesson is that it's straightforward,'' Alexandra  Echevarria, 17, said of the ChatGPT material.

''ChatGPT seems to love wearable technology,'' noted Alia Goddess Burke, 17, another student. ''It's biased!''

Ms. Shuman was offering a lesson that went beyond learning to identify A.I. bias. She was using ChatGPT to give her pupils a message that artificial intelligence was not inevitable and that young women had the insights to challenge it.

''Should your teachers be using ChatGPT?'' Ms. Shuman asked toward the end of the lesson.

''The students' answer was a resounding ''NO!'' At least for now.

The Essay continues. The World Students Society thanks author Natasha Singer.


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