So much has happened within the last few months in the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is hard for anyone in academia to keep up with the ongoing developments. The key point, the nucleus of this explosion of AI utilization was the public launch of ChatGPT on 30 November 2023 by OpenAI. This was a vital moment in that now, with ChatGPT, everyone has access to an advanced large language model AI for free. All can now access and use this AI through simple conversational English, without the need to use any type of advanced computer language code. Yet along with this great new power comes the important need to properly understand it in order to be able to properly use it: AI Literacy.
The speed and diversity of AI types, along with their developments and implementations have altered the world in general and education specifically. Businesses around the world are now incorporating AI such as ChatGPT into their processes to improve efficiencies and capabilities (RB, 2023; Tellez, 2023). NBC News has even reported that “Half of the companies in the top 10 of the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list feature key use of AI, and notably, they represent a diverse range of industries and use cases” (Boorstin, 2023, para. 7). Many AIs are also being used in different ways throughout the world to help with organization, to help answer questions, to enhance productivity, and to increase people’s, groups’, organizations’, and even governments’ abilities (Medaglia et al., 2023; Valle-Cruz et al., 2019). Sadly, some of these groups seek to use AI in less ethical ways which causes problems on multiple levels (scams, deepfakes, privacy violations, academic dishonesty, etc.).
Due to this wide utilization of AI and its increased integration throughout society, a true imperative need for both students and instructors (as well as everyone else) to develop AI Literacy has developed. In my recent book “The AI Literacy Imperative: Empowering Instructors & Students,” I have gone through the research, talked to professors and teachers in different fields/levels, and identified four main aspects that need to be fully grasped: 1) Awareness, 2) Capability, 3) Knowledge, and 4) Critical Thinking (Anders, 2023). These AI Literacy concepts are more than just skills, they are also mindsets that we must have to best use AI, remain relevant/competitive, and efficiently function in a world increasingly filled with AI.
This AI Literacy aspect deals with being aware of the many ways that AI is now present within our society. Trying to ignore or worse yet, ban AI simply isn’t realistic or fully feasible. A school that tries to ban AI needs to realize that AI is already part of internet search engines, Microsoft Word, Grammarly, and many websites. Additionally, students can always use an AI like ChatGPT on their phones or at home. AI is now a major part of most societal aspects including social media (ex. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), streaming video services (ex. Netflix), e-commerce (ex. Amazon/Alibaba), and even dating sites (Anders, 2023).
It isn’t enough to simply be aware of AI, both instructors and students as well as the general public, must develop skills in being able to properly use different AI systems. All need to know which AI to use and how to best work with the system (prompt engineering skills). This is needed for personal development (to learn and accomplish personal tasks) as well as for employment necessities. A Fortune Magazine article addressing Microsoft’s Work Trend Index stated “…the labor force needs to start working on their A.I. skills immediately or risk being left behind” (Pringle, 2023, para. 5).
All need to know that everyone can now freely access different types of AI and use them in different ways. Although great things can be done with AI in education and entertainment as well as many other sectors, it can also be used for scams, deepfakes (realistic fake videos), or other propaganda used to negatively influence people in many different ways. Other issues such as whether individuals’ data is secure and how personal interactions with AI are utilized are also important aspects of this AI Literacy concept.
AI is not perfect and even if it was, all AI responses should still be critically analyzed to ensure that its output is logical and truthful. Large language models (LLMs) AIs like ChatGPT can still sometimes create erroneous “hallucinated” responses (OpenAI, 2023). Additionally, it is important to consider how the AI response was formulated and whether biased has been introduced. Ethics is also a big aspect that needs to be considered on multiple levels. Is excessive AI use harming the environment, do all have adequate access to computers/internet in order to use AI, will it take over too many jobs? These are important questions to think about. Finally, the important issue of “overreliance” needs to be critically analyzed on an ongoing basis in that if we fully rely on the system “…users may not be vigilant for errors due to trust in the [AI] model” (OpenAI, 2023, p. 59). This can additionally lead people to lose skills and prevent them from gaining new ones since an AI system could be doing so much more for them in the future.
There are so many different aspects to consider regarding AI that AI Literacy has truly become a real imperative that we as a society must address. The AI Literacy skills of Awareness, Capability, Knowledge, and Critical Thinking need to be integrated into our academic system at all levels to ensure that society is fully able to cope with, effectively and properly use, as well as guide the integration of AI so that effects humanity and our lived experience in the most beneficial way possible. These ideas and thoughts are more fully discussed in my book but need to be openly addressed by all to ensure that society is fully aware of this AI Literacy imperative.
Anders, B. (2023). The AI literacy imperative: Empowering instructors & students. Sovorel Publishing.
Boorstin, J. (2023). Why ChatGPT developer OpenAI is the No. 1 company on the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list. NBC News. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/09/why-chatgpt-maker-openai-is-the-no-1-2023-cnbc-disruptor-50-company.html
García-Peñalvo, F. J. (2023). The perception of artificial intelligence in educational contexts after the launch of ChatGPT: Disruption or panic?. Education in the Knowledge Society (24). https://repositorio.grial.eu/bitstream/grial/2838/1/01.pdf
Medaglia, R., Gil-Garcia, J. R., & Pardo, T. A. (2023). Artificial intelligence in government: taking stock and moving forward. Social Science Computer Review, 41(1), 123-140. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/08944393211034087
OpenAI. (2023). GPT-4 technical report. Arxiv. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2303.08774.pdf
Pringle, E. (2023, May 10). Microsoft reveals the A.I. skills that will be ‘crucial’ to landing any job in the future. Fortune Media IP Limited. https://fortune.com/2023/05/10/microsoft-artificial-intelligence-skills-critical-for-employment
RB. (2023). 1 in 4 companies have already replaced workers with ChatGPT. Resume Builder https://www.resumebuilder.com/1-in-4-companies-have-already-replaced-workers-with-chatgpt
Tellez, A. (2023, March 8). These major companies—from Snap to Salesforce— are all using ChatGPT. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonytellez/2023/03/03/these-major-companies-from-snap-to-instacart–are-all-using-chatgpt Valle-Cruz, D., Alejandro Ruvalcaba-Gomez, E., Sandoval-Almazan, R., & Ignacio Criado, J. (2019, June). A review of artificial intelligence in government and its potential from a public policy perspective. In Proceedings of the 20th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (pp. 91-99). https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3325112.3325242