Wednesday I gave my Spanish presentation on the effects of tourism on different economies around the world. The girl who gave her presentation after me talked about the recent increase in mobile banking and buying things online instead of in stores.
Thursday I attended a panel put on by the business college on the impact of OpenAI and ChatGPT in the local business, multinational companies, and the schoolroom.
Friday I took a mini road trip to a neighboring state school to photograph their end-of-the-year senior project fashion show.
All such different things in different industries and sectors that scratch different parts of the brain, all greatly devoted and trying to keep up with one thing – technology.
During the fashion show, large projection screens were set up on either side of the runway to showcase a new kind of AI technology that the fashion design and merchandising students had been learning. The software, Browzwear’s V-Stitcher, helps designers to design and fit their garments. Each design student had their models’ body scanned and uploaded to the 3D software, which then made avatars of each model. This software allows students, and professional designers everywhere, to work on the design and fittings without actually having their model present. Not needing the model saves a tremendous amount of time and stress on both parties and saves money, as the designer doesn’t have to pay an hourly wage to the model during fittings, since no model is needed with this software. The garment is then sewed together virtually and completely constructed on the virtual avatar model before the student cuts their fabric, which reduces the number of fittings needed and creates a smaller probability of mistakes. This software has just recently been implemented into the professional world of fashion, so it’s an unique opportunity for these students to learn such a vital skill while still in school.
Since graduating students have this tool which is becoming more important in the design and merchandising world, they will be highly marketable post-graduation. After the show, one of the professors got on stage and told the crowd how proud she was of the students learning such a new and hard technology so quickly and positively. Especially since most of the professors were also learning alongside the students, and regularly became frustrated at the complexity of the program when they had been using models to perform fittings for dozens of years. Despite it being a brand new skill for these collegiate juniors and seniors, by the end of the year they were using the software quickly and fluidly which allowed for them to create a virtual fashion show alongside the real one.
The professors, and a majority of the crowd, thought this information was incredibly impressive. In a sense, it definitely is. In another sense, learning the new technology that seems to be constantly developing in recent years has been the soundtrack to the entirety of these students’ lives. College-aged students started off watching movies from VHS tapes and playing music from a little blue iPod that didn’t have any buttons on it, and now there are iPhones and streaming devices and headphones that don’t even need a cord, and the pressure of having to know a specific type of sewing program, even though you didn’t get into fashion design to learn computer coding, or else you will appear unmarketable to possible employers. In the past 5 years it seems as though every single industry has had some kind of new technology come out that students and professionals alike have had to learn if they want to continue to be successful. In my business Spanish class, they use the phrase, “renovarse o morir” which translates to “renovate or die.” It alludes to the idea that if companies don’t prepare for the variety and speed of technological changes and their effect on the structural and societal values of commerce in the 21st century, the company is headed towards an almost certain failure because it will not be able to remain competitive. The same goes for employees: if they do not renovate their skills with every new technology advancement, they are headed towards almost certain failure because someone else will be renovating their knowledge. Therefore it seems like the question is not, “will we have to learn some brand new skill all of the sudden,” but rather, “when will it happen next?”
One of the professors on the OpenAI panel on Thursday spoke on this topic. She is a media studies professor and said that it is the professors’ jobs to keep up with these technological advancements so then they can in turn pass on their knowledge to their students as well as they can. Of course this was in relation to ChatGPT, which professors over the world have been concerned students are using to do their homework for them. Professors have been worried about technological advancements like this far before ChatGPT though. One of the panelists who worked as an accountant said that he remembered when he wasn’t allowed to use a calculator on the CPA exam because they wanted to make sure all the test takers could do the math by hand and wouldn’t need to rely on a calculator. The rules didn’t change until 1978 but were still greatly restrictive up until a few years ago. He said it didn’t make sense, he didn’t know a single accountant who didn’t use a calculator. All the questions he got wrong during practice exams were from mathematical mistakes that would have been eliminated by using a calculator.
In a world where technology is so vital to success, there is no room or time for professors or those in authority to declare something wholly bad. In reality, these are the programs that are going to change the future of the workforce that their students are graduating into. In order to fully support and nourish these students to their full working capacity, professors don’t have the luxury of being technophobic.
A professor of business management and advertising was on the panel as well, and was asked specifically about how he integrates ChatGPT into his classroom. He responded that he knew his students were going to use the software with or without his guidance, and he would rather they use it with his guidance, even if he’s not a professional in artificial intelligence. When writing papers, students are encouraged to use ChatGPT to help brainstorm ideas or find relevant information, however in the bibliography students must cite the program and explain in detail how they used ChatGPT, how it helped them, and the areas in which it fell short.
Instead of telling students they would be punished for plagiarism and cheating if they were caught using the new program, he helped to foster a new skill set and allow students to look at AI as a tool, not the end result. The school’s head of cybersecurity said the same thing, that AI is just a tool like anything else. You can take a hammer and hurt someone, or you can take a hammer and build a house. The power is in the hands of the owner of the hammer to decipher whether the tool will be used for good or bad, and it is the professor’s responsibility to be a mentor for students to use the tool for good. ChatGPT is incredibly powerful, but in order to unleash all its possibilities one must understand prompt engineering to get the responses they want and how to work backwards to get the works cited and check for accurate information. Of course professors aren’t fluent in this new language either, but just like with the new fashion software, they should be learning and struggling alongside their students. When the tool is used for good, it can make a world of difference in educational and professional settings.
ChatGPT is only the beginning of these differences, as OpenAI would allow for professionals in each industry to build likeminded models for their own benefit. For example, the medical industry could take similar code that engineers used to build ChatGPT and make a similar program to make it easier to access and share patient information. In the coming years, I would predict that each major multinational company will create their own knock off version of ChatGPT. Google, Apple, Meta Microsoft, Amazon, and others will all have their company-specific AI program. Similar to how these companies have their own spinoff of the iPhone, Amazon Alexa, or messaging platform.
With the integration of all these different forms of AI, it seems as though no jobs are safe for cuts due to the new technology. The fall of journalism has only been expedited by these programs that can write articles faster than humans, despite providing inaccurate data and false quotations in a majority of cases.
If so many jobs are becoming overtaken by technology, it poses the question of which jobs are considered to be safe with the arrival of AI which seems to do everything incredibly faster than a human. Last week Buzzfeed laid off 15% of their workforce and closed their news operations while Insider News just laid off 10% a few days ago. Insider’s CEO announced at a press conference that AI is a large contribution to the larger restructuring of the journalism industry and that they will be using AI to create more content that writers cannot manage. This all despite ChatGPT, and other like programs) are unable to determine fact from fiction, write English papers and reports at a B/C level, and are primarily good for defining things, not analyzing them. AI does not have the same consciousness to determine when a fact just does not seem right, or when they’re gathering information from a website that a high schooler built for their school project instead of a verified database. Recently these downfalls were in the news when CNET, a company that reports on technology and consumer electronics, was discovered to be using their own company version of ChatGPT to write 77 different articles. Despite the CEO defending the program, saying they had a human editor fact check the information, every single article had at least one flaw in it. Since, the company has published a new article about how being technology journalists made this experiment important, the AI did make several errors such as “incomplete company names, transposed numbers or language that our senior editors viewed as vague.” They also stated that they were putting the AI program on the backburner until they “feel confident the tool and [their] editorial processes will prevent both human and AI errors.” If a company rooted in technology does not feel confident using AI to generate a larger number of articles that will need a large team of editors for fact checking, then it seems as though other news outlets should not believe they can be the exception.
Journalism AI introduces the idea of citations and if the program has the ability to give credit to the places they are getting their information. Since most of the information online currently has been written by real people, they deserve credit when an AI software learns from their writing. This is similar to AI programs that will create photographs or art based on the prompts they give you, like Midjourney. AI programs gain knowledge, learn grammar, and determine what response they will give you based on the things they have seen and heard, similar to a child. If the AI program is creating a piece of art, it’s inevitable that they got their ‘inspiration’ for the artwork from another artist, who does not receive any kind of credit or compensation for this interaction. Last weekend, a collaboration between Drake and The Weeknd went viral and rose the charts before it was announced that the song was made entirely from AI. The singers had not recorded this song, separately or together. The anonymous creator had programmed the AI with songs from both artists, and the program spit out a collab between the two. It eventually got removed from various platforms, but not before racking up millions of streams on Tik Tok, Spotify, and Youtube. Despite the popularity of the song, before and after people realized it wasn’t real, neither Drake nor The Weeknd received royalties despite their voices and styles being used to produce this high performing song. While Drake and The Weeknd might have enough disposable income that this is not a major problem for them, it is for all the majority of artists out there who are getting surpassed by, and possibly become obsolete because of, a computer program.
It seems as though there is a very small degree of jobs that remain entirely safe with the arrival of AI programs that will just get more industry specific as time goes on, which is why learning how to use the programs young is so important. Not everyone has the opportunity to learn how to use the Browzwear’s V-Stitcher software to sew clothes. These students are learning a vital skill as college students while industry professionals are also frantically trying to understand the software and integrate it into their company for benefits. Being worried that this new technology will make the younger generations ‘stupid’ or less capable in whole ignores the biggest vital skill students must have across every industry if they want to be successful in the 21st century: the ability to adapt quickly to changing technology.
After that presentation on mobile banking and online purchases in Spanish class on Wednesday, we discussed the ideas as a class. Our professor told us that her mother was still adamant about not using her credit card to make online purchases. She is convinced that when she buys something online, the company or a hacker will then be able to access her card information and steal her identity. Therefore whenever she needs to buy something online, she drives to Walgreens and buys a Visa gift card for however much the item is. Then, if someone does hack in and steal her card information, it won’t matter because the card isn’t connected to name or account and will be empty by then anyways.
Just as Mother Profesora has found, there are always workarounds to the evolution of technology, which is a fact that doesn’t have to come with a negative connotation. Having your credit card information stolen through online shopping is a valid fear and has happened before, just like it’s valid to worry about students using AI to write their essays, because it has also happened before. The process of determining a final price, driving to Walgreens, buying a gift card, and then traveling back to make the purchase seems as though it would be a grand inconvenience, but it is worth it to her.
Therefore there is a choice to make between developing with the new technology or staying rooted in the old processes. Either way, the world will continue to move forward with or without everyone tagging along.
Leave a Reply