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Great piece Hannah! So many important questions! Once upon a time state colleges were well funded and earning a college degree helped to build the middle class. With the help of Reagan and others, the defunding of state schools was/is the prime mover of inequality. Essentially, state-funded schools were similar to the vocational system in Europe. While it was possible for a few to do great things with a state degree, it was mostly responsible for creating the vocational class, which was a good life relatively speaking. People call for refunding state schools and that would be a good thing, but the AI subject of your essay is now responsible for eliminating many vocational jobs as well as professional ones. It is a Catch-22 situation. As for your more philosophical questions, cheating is an inextricable part of the human condition and I simply love how you have layered in the many different intentions for doing so. As I like to say, context is everything. Is this the end of writing? Certainly the end for a type of writing. Writing in general has always been a problem and genuinely exceptional writing has always been rare. Rare because it requires a love of language ( especially grammar) and of reading and of knowing a language other than your mother tongue. We are living through a major transitional period in time. Higher education is on the front line of this transition. What they decide today will impact our future. Will it be like Star Trek the New Generation or more like Philip K. Dick's Blade Runner? I believe we must embrace the inevitability of AI in a positive way to ensure that we encode ethics. It is the only way to prevent the dystopian world imagined by Dick. And it won't be easy. Thanks again for a great read!

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Nice essay. If younger generations don't learn to translate their perceptions, feelings, and observations into good writing, we will have no new insights that can be called human ones. The same is true of "art" made by AI. Capitalist "values" have so skewed and dirtied everything in our world, from the food chain to education, that everything is for sale, including degrees, including people, including countries. What we are fighting for, it seems to me when we require students to do their own work, write their own essays, paint their own paintings, is a recognition that their unique and beautiful selves matter, that their points of view are important and. matter. We must reach them that to let a machine do their work is to obliterate themselves. We must show them that we want better for them than that, that they deserve better than to abandon their brains to a machine. How to catch them? No idea.

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Re grades-I’m probably out of touch but I’ve recently wondered how much transcripts actually matter beyond the BA or BS if one is not going to medical or law school or advanced degree? How many grads expect to pursue these degrees? And what about the role of transcripts in internships ? That is not an endorsement of internships!!!

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Feb 15·edited Feb 15

There's a lot in what you write (which is excellent) that I'll ignore in order to address the issue of "cheating." These are just a few preliminary thoughts.

The framing of the issue of the use of chatbots as cheating might need some context.

From my experience:

1. In middle school, cheap, hand-held calculators became available. They were immediately banned in math courses. Today, no one thinks twice about using calculators in math-based classes.

2. The first year MA/PhD in sociology at UC Berkeley included a course “intro to statistics” (or something like that for a title). The professor decided to teach us what could at best be called the “philosophy of statistics,” either because they didn’t want to do math stuff or because they knew something was already in the works: SPSS. I assume quantitative researchers today do not do what they would have had to do pre-SPSS.

Outside my experience:

3. Programmers use GitHub (github.com) to write code. Some of them worry that chatgpt and other bots will “put them out of business.” But until that happens, they use the bots that will be their gravediggers.

So, are these three examples of the use of machines to process and create something examples of cheating?

Assuming the answer is "no," then what is different about the use of chatbots to write prose papers in college courses? The answer to this question has less to do with the opus operatum, and more to do with the modus operandi. What “we” teach is the "way" to learn and the "way" to write. What students are being "cheated of" -- if they use machines to produce papers -- is the development of their own capacity to translate thought into written form in increasingly sophisticated ways. This process of knowledge creation can hypothetically be programmed. But what matters for the “idea” of a liberal arts education is the cultivation of the self, of self-capacity. This “value” stands apart the preoccupation with meritocratic “success.” However, it is likely the case that such a value is not suited to students who do not have the luxury of attending college for the purpose of self-cultivation alone, but need a college credential as their entry card to upward mobility.

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Claire another excellent piece. I’m so glad that I no longer teach. The world has become too confused

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