AI and the UnGoogleable Question

UnGoogleable Question

In the past, I have touched on the importance in teaching practice of asking students good questions rather than focus on rote memorization of answers.  An example was my post here.  Or to go back further, a question Enoch Hale raised about a Future Faculty class we both sat in (taught by Jeff Nugent):

What really got my attention last night was the question you posed “If you don’t change the given structure, then do you allow Blackboard to define your course?” So many implications to texts books we passively use, to syllabi we “borrow” from other instructors, to classroom space. Where is autonomy in instructional design given all the givens?

One could argue that few classes have rigid answers or autonomy in design any more.  I loved Steve Wheeler’s point here and here about asking Un-Googleable questions as a teaching practice.

But with ChatGPT, does this philosophy still hold?

I asked ChatGPT the following question:

“How would Abraham Lincoln have addressed climate change?”

Here was the response:

“Abraham Lincoln was an important historical figure in the United States, known for his leadership during the Civil War and his efforts to abolish slavery. However, as he lived in the 19th century, he did not have the opportunity to address the issue of climate change, which emerged as a major global issue only in recent decades.

That being said, if Lincoln were alive today and faced with the challenge of climate change, it is difficult to say exactly how he would approach the issue. As a leader, Lincoln was known for his pragmatism and his ability to work with people of different backgrounds and viewpoints to achieve common goals. He was also deeply committed to preserving the natural beauty and resources of the United States for future generations.

Given these qualities, it is possible that Lincoln would view climate change as a serious threat to the well-being of the country and its people, and would work to address it in a collaborative and pragmatic manner. He might see the issue as a moral imperative, much like he saw the abolition of slavery, and work to mobilize public support for action.

It is also possible that Lincoln would focus on finding technological solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as developing new forms of renewable energy or improving energy efficiency. He might see this as an opportunity for innovation and economic growth, much like he supported the development of railroads and other infrastructure projects during his presidency.

Ultimately, it is impossible to say for certain how Lincoln would address climate change, as the issue was not a part of the political discourse of his time. However, given his qualities as a leader and his commitment to the welfare of future generations, it is likely that he would approach the issue with seriousness, pragmatism, and a strong sense of moral purpose.”

Pretty freaking cool, right! If a student submitted this to me, I would be impressed with the level of thinking this post displayed.

But a student did not submit it – rather an artificial intelligence-based chatbot did.

So my question is – are there any unGoogleable questions anymore?

Lincoln Internet Quote{Graphics: Steve Seddon, North Idaho College}

4 thoughts on “AI and the UnGoogleable Question

  1. Hey there, Skipper! As always…great to see you blogging and sharing your ideas. I cherish those coffee conversations about teaching and learning…and glad some of it still lives on here through “Flat World..”

  2. Those were the days, Jeff! Glad you and I and Bud still connect.

    We are living closer now (Sherborn MA) so need to do a road trip to your area soon!

  3. So intimidating and impressive. Your question, though, makes me dive back into an enduring question: What constitutes as “original” thought in education? I ask this because so much of what we ask students to learn is restating established knowledge. In education we consider authentic learning not necessarily as original thought, but as process and the acquisition of exiting knowledge. If education was about googling answers, which it all too often is, then AI is indeed intimidating. If, however, we frame education more broadly, then AI and googling for answers is somewhat irrelevant. I suppose it is based on the questions we ask about teaching and learning. I can honestly say that I don’t construct unique ideas every day; they might be new to me, but it doesn’t mean that they are new. Rather, I mix and remix ideas that give the illusion of uniqueness. Is this a problem? It depends on my purpose. So, the AI text about Lincoln is impressive because it poses a question: How might Lincoln have worked to clarify his purpose? Or, what might Lincoln have considered as he clarified his purpose as a guide to action? Ok, getting abstract here….maybe AI can help clarify my muddled thinking 🙂

    1. Neat comment, Enoch. Our time together at the CTE really reinforced the idea of good questions rather than good answers…and I learned that from you!

      Hope you are doing well. AI is bringing a whole new spin to original thought…in education and elsewhere. I think back to Dave Weinberger’s article in Wired about machines now knowing things we will never understand –

      Intimidating and impressive, indeed!

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