I was tempted, but this blog was not written by AI or any Chatbox, one who loves me or not. But this piece is all about AI and its implications for librarians and education. It seems we can expect a flood of texts written by AI from now on. The question is how reliable will they be? Will the program pull from authoritative sources?
As of now, AI has no access to the “invisible internet” of database resources or print books that have not been digitized. Nor, does it have materials uploaded after 2021. When these programs scan sources, how will they determine the value of the sites? Just look for similar language and phrases? These questions have important consequences: for example, a recent Nature article noted that scientists were fooled by such texts.
The increasing usage and acceptance of AI, presents challenges and new opportunities. Perhaps the most important skill or students will need going forward will be to assess the accuracy and relevance of texts. Yesterday, for example, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program announced that it would accept AI generated material if cited properly. Matt Glanville observed that “When AI can essentially write an essay at the touch of a button, we need our pupils to master different skills, such as understanding if the essay is any good or if it has missed context, has used biased data or if it is lacking in creativity.” So, assessing content will be vital. Granville states, “These will be far more important skills than writing an essay, so the assessment tasks we set will need to reflect this.” This approach is fine as long as students have time in school and home, to acquire this content in the age of distraction.
Emphasizing skills rather than content has become a trend lately. Memorizing facts is seen as boring and unnecessary. The idea being students should learn the skills to “do” history and science like the professionals.. Content could be learned later, or just by “googling” something as the need arose But if you don’t have a solid foundation of basic facts, how you can judge the credibility of AI-generated content? Will readers take the time to assess each fact? Of course, these demands were present with human-generated content, but now the need is greater. Perhaps it will help that the National Council of Teachers of English is placing greater emphasis on reading nonfiction.
Of course, the role of librarians is clear: acquire and highlight noteworthy, human-authored background content and nonfiction so that students can build this important reservoir of background knowledge when they encounter new texts, regardless of who or what created it. Encourage the idea that reading for information can be fun, especially if connected with previous knowledge and interesting facts. It will be essential in a world dominated by texts produced in 5 minutes by AI.