Google Launches Bard to Counter ChatGPT

10/02/20236 minute read
Google Launches Bard to Counter ChatGPT
The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, we take a look at how AI tools like Bard and ChatGPT will change the education landscape and what universities should do to prepare. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

Google Launches Bard to Counter ChatGPT

As universities around the world prepare for the use of AI in classrooms, Google has launched its own chat-styled AI called Bard. It will work exactly like ChatGPT, that is, users will be able to use the chatbot through conversation. The new chatbot is based on Google's Language Model for Dialogue Application (Language Model for Dialogue Application or LaMDA).

Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses. Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Every publication has now talked about what these AI tools mean for classrooms. There have been occasions where ChatGPT has passed MBA and medical school exams leading many to believe that the AI tool could mean the end of traditional learning as we know it. One of the key benefits of using ChatGPT for essay writing is its ability to generate ideas and potential topic sentences. This can be particularly helpful for students who struggle with writer's block or are unsure of what to write about. By providing a prompt to the model, such as the prompt for an essay, ChatGPT can generate a list of potential topic sentences or ideas for the student to consider. 

Another potential benefit of using ChatGPT for essay writing is its ability to generate coherent and grammatically correct sentences. This can be beneficial for students who struggle with grammar and sentence structure. ChatGPT can provide a starting point for the student, who can then edit and revise the generated text to suit their own writing style and voice. Tools such as Grammarly and Google Docs’ Smart Compose already provide these services and are other examples of AI-based edtech tools that have already entered the classroom.

Many professors are already changing the way they teach and assess their students to counteract the effects of these AI tools, the New York Times reported. Some professors are redesigning their courses entirely, making changes that include more oral exams, group work and handwritten assessments in lieu of typed ones. At schools including George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., professors are phasing out take-home, open-book assignments — which became a dominant method of assessment in the pandemic but now seem vulnerable to chatbots. They are instead opting for in-class assignments, handwritten papers, group work and oral exams.

Understandably there is a scramble to build an AI-detection tool that universities can use. A Princeton University graduate has just created an app that can tell whether an essay has been written by ChatGPT, NPR has reported. GPTZero uses two indicators – perplexity and burstiness – to determine whether a piece of writing has been generated by a bot. "For so long, AI has been a black box where we really don't know what's going on inside," said the app’s inventor Edward Tian. "And with GPTZero, I wanted to start pushing back and fighting against that." In Australia, University of Technology Sydney graduate Aaron Shikhule has developed AICheatCheck, which provides a score for a piece of work, showing what percentage it thinks was written by AI as well as an indication of whether the essay is of a high school or college standard, Times Higher Education has reported. 

The use of AI in education is here to stay. There are plans to release GPT4 and Microsoft is discussing a $10 billion investment in OpenAI. Silicon Valley start-ups, including Stability AI and Character.AI, are also working on generative A.I. tools. It remains to be seen how far Bard will go in the near future. So far it has only cost parent company Alphabet $100 billion when it made a mistake in a Twitter ad, Quartz reported. So proceed with caution!

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. Young people will be able to use UCAS to search and apply for apprenticeships, alongside degrees, under new plans announced by the Education Secretary and UCAS. From this autumn, UCAS will expand their service so that young people can see more personalised options, including apprenticeships. From 2024, students will then be able to apply for apprenticeships through UCAS alongside an undergraduate degree application. The plans will help put technical and vocational education on an equal footing with traditional academic routes. “I learnt the skills that businesses truly value and it launched my career in international business,” Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said. 
  2. Clearer residency rules will not necessarily boost overseas students’ prospects of remaining in Australia, and consequently may not give the international education industry the fillip it is hoping for, a leading policy analyst has warned, Times Higher Education has reported. Australian National University researcher Andrew Norton said changes to migration settings may offer greater clarity but ultimately reduce overseas students’ chances of securing permanent residency (PR). While the Australian government has continually boosted work rights for overseas graduates, it has maintained a system that forces would-be students to prove that they have no intention of staying in Australia after graduation.
  3. Net tuition revenue at 61% of US institutions has fallen over the Covid period, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Net-tuition revenue is the money that institutions earn through enrollment minus any discounts and allowances provided to students. While the majority of colleges did see a decline in their net-tuition revenue, some types of institutions fared worse than others. More than seven out of 10 community colleges saw that source of revenue drop from 2019 to 2021, while four-year institutions fared slightly better: 60% of public colleges and 58% of private colleges experienced drops in their net-tuition revenue.
  4. As more graduate schools lobby to exit the US News rankings, there is a lot of debate whether these rankings will become obsolete. However, two German sociologists have argued that as more institutions exit, the rankings will in fact become stronger, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Julian Hamann and Leopold Ringel, put forth a provocative hypothesis: that criticism ultimately strengthens rankers, who respond by modifying their work rather than abandoning it, which ends up reinforcing their legitimacy. It remains whether this will hold true as the first round of modified law school rankings will come out later this year.
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