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Harvard University Employs AI Chatbot As Computer Science Instructor

The top university is implementing an artificial intelligence instructor but says teachers will also be part of the process

In its flagship coding course, Harvard University intends to employ an AI chatbot akin to ChatGPT as an instructor.

When the Computer Science 50: Introduction to Computer Science (CS50) program commences in September, students will be encouraged to utilise the AI tool. According to course instructors, it is expected that the AI instructor will be developed based on OpenAI‘s GPT 3.5 or GPT 4 models.

CS50 professor David Malan said to The Harvard Crimson, “Our own hope is that, through AI, we can eventually approximate a 1:1 teacher:student ratio for every student in CS50, as by providing them with software-based tools that, 24/7, can support their learning at a pace and in a style that works best for them individually. 

“Providing support that’s tailored to students’ specific questions has long been a challenge at scale via edX and OpenCourseWare more generally, with so many students online, so these features will benefit students both on campus and off,” added Malan. 

Embracing AI in the classroom

The AI teaching bot will also provide students with feedback, assist them in identifying bugs in their code or offer feedback on their work.

Amidst a significant surge in the popularity of AI tools, the introduction of the AI teaching bot coincides with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has become one of the fastest-growing apps ever since its launch in November 2022.

Within a mere two months of its release, the chatbot attracted a staggering 100 million active users, thanks to its versatile capabilities, spanning from composing poetry and essays to generating computer code.

Google’s Bard has emerged as another AI tool offering similar functionalities. In a recent update, Bard has gained the ability to not only generate code but also independently execute it. 

Professor Malan went on to encourage students to, “Always think critically” when presented with information from the AI. And that the tools will only get better through feedback from students and teachers alike as, “They too will be very much part of the process.” 

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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