“More skill, less knowledge”

After a keynote speech by Andreas Wittke in a “Lehrschnack” at the Technical University of Lübeck on March 22, 2023, representatives from studies and teaching discussed this in a hybrid fishbowl discussion. Conclusion: Exciting. find rules. Keep going!

With ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) for text generation, universities are facing huge changes. While Google was the archivist who appeared on the scene with thousands of sources in seconds after a request, ChatGPT now pretends to be a clever know-it-all who seems to provide a well-sounding answer to every question. “The application possibilities are endless,” says Wittke, “so much money is flowing, this tool will soon be very good.” The main field of application is currently programming, followed by the tasks of writing texts and customer service. All of our everyday work will change: “AI does not fundamentally replace people. But people using AI will soon replace people not using AI.” His appeal: “Try it out!”

That’s what a lot of people are doing right now: That “Swiss army knife of education” is the most successful application of all time. Just five days after its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT already had one million users. For comparison: Spotify needed five months for this number of users in 2008. The challenge for universities over the next few months is: learning, applying, finding rules. ChatGPT can theoretically formulate exam tasks, write exams, correct exams, evaluate exams and formulate certificates. Clear rules are required.

“I’m excited to see where it takes us. We want to use this as an opportunity,” says Prof. Jochen Abke, Vice President Studies and Digitization. A handout for students is currently being worked on; the linking of digital and analogue practices will be given even more priority in teaching in the future. The problems still predominate when using ChatGPT: Prof. Nane Kratzke pointed out the many errors that are currently still being thrown out. “The AI ​​does not recognize any connections, but is a good sparring partner,” he says. “You have to know how to deal with it so that the results are usable.”

And where is TH Lübeck at the moment? Experts distinguish between four phases in the maturing process of technology development: At the beginning there is hype, the “peak of exaggerated expectations”. Then follows the “valley of disappointment” because the technology is not yet perfect and it is not useful to use it. After a regeneration time, the “path of enlightenment” follows. Eventually, if things go well, you get to the “plateau of productivity”. A digital survey during the well-attended event revealed: The audience at TH Lübeck is divided into the first three phases. Digital pioneer Andreas Wittke is certain: “We are on the path to enlightenment.”

However, the way there is still rocky. “Universities have a duty to regulate and shape examination law,” warns Arne Krieger, legal adviser at TH Lübeck. The students also demand this: without clear regulations on the use of AI in examinations, the university degree will otherwise be devalued in the medium term. “More skill, less knowledge”, summarizes Denzel Marlon-Kuhlemann, student at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Everyone on the podium agrees: in the future, the clever combination of analogue and artificial intelligence will be the focus of teaching.