How AI Shapes the Future of Critical Thinking

Gigster
|
September 1, 2023
Artificial Intelligence and Critical Thinking

As Artificial Intelligence becomes more sophisticated, there's been more chatter about AI – some people are concerned that AI may diminish our problem-solving and critical thinking abilities.

But here's the thing: AI isn’t designed to replace human critical thinking.

While generative Artificial Intelligence tools, like ChatGPT, can offer accurate responses, it’s primarily a text generator. Occasionally, it produces what may seem like answers, but the key is recognizing that it excels at generating text. Within that text, you'll find gems of truth… alongside the occasional blunder.

To make the most of these tools, humans must employ prompts to help us identify the pertinent information within its output and sift out what truly matters.

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The fear of artificial intelligence threatening critical thinking isn’t new. Stephen Hawking once famously said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." Ironically, he could vocalize this warning using an AI-powered speech system developed by Intel.

Understanding how Artificial Intelligence shapes the future of critical thinking provides valuable insights into how your company can leverage AI to enhance decision-making processes, problem-solving abilities, and overall organizational intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence also presents potential competitive advantages and innovative opportunities in the context of critical thinking, which is crucial for staying ahead in today's rapidly evolving business landscape.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the capacity to question, evaluate, and reflect on previously held beliefs; it’s the ability to recognize ambiguity and make informed judgments and decisions. It involves examining, interpreting, and reasoning to clarify and justify positions. [1]

Critical thinking involves skepticism, reasoning, logic, correlation, and causality to separate what’s necessary from what’s irrelevant in a discussion (like you must when chatting with Generative AI).

The Importance of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking allows us to solve problems, make informed decisions, enhance communication skills, form arguments, or reach conclusions.

Below are some benefits of critical thinking:

  • Better communication
  • Increased creative thinking
  • Enhanced problem-solving
  • Improved decision making

Technology's Effect on Critical Thinking

It’s clear that technology has impacted cognitive development; for example, “The Google Effect” [2] refers to people tending to forget things they know they can easily find on the internet but remember stuff they know they can’t find online.

This isn’t necessarily a negative effect but a change in how memory operates. Instead of remembering the actual information, people remember where they can find it. We might be worse at remembering information but better at finding it.

The rapid adoption of ChatGPT is the latest advancement to make people re-evaluate their reliance on technology. The New York City Department of Education quickly banned it on all school devices and networks.[3] Some educators already believe that ChatGPT could completely replace them.

Before you write off Artificial Intelligence as the destroyer of minds, Stanford University explored how AI could enhance education in various ways. It highlighted AI's capacity to support teachers at scale, offering practice students real-time feedback and post-lesson reports. Artificial Intelligence was seen as a tool to keep educators updated with the latest knowledge in their fields. [4]

Some compare AI to calculators in classrooms, emphasizing that students still need foundational knowledge. However, Artificial Intelligence might raise the bar by requiring students to edit and curate AI-generated content, fostering deeper engagement and creativity. A Cambridge blog reflects how teachers can enhance learners' critical thinking skills by incorporating AI into their lessons. [5]

Artificial Intelligence is also a means to enable learning without judgment, as AI interfaces could provide non-threatening feedback and support learners' self-confidence, especially in developing soft skills.

It could also improve learning and assessment quality by facilitating personalized conversations between teachers and students, rapidly assessing learners' skills, and matching them with suitable roles in the workforce.

The Standford University summit addressed AI's potential to revolutionize education but underscored the importance of ethical, equitable, and safe implementation to ensure it serves as a force for positive change.

Can AI Increase the Demand for Critical Thinking?

AI's evolution should serve as a catalyst, not a hindrance, for critical thought. Recent studies show that the value of critical thinking is on the rise. [6] High innovators in the technology, media, and telecom industries rate critical thinking as essential for new candidates (46%), even higher than deep knowledge and expertise in innovative technologies (42%).

Artificial Intelligence allows healthcare students and professionals to safely exercise their critical thinking skills in a virtual environment. They can visualize the interactions between medical equipment and patients to observe the ideal functioning of equipment during patient care and the potential issues that may arise, whether related to patient conditions or technical glitches, without harming actual patients. [7]

The widespread integration of Artificial Intelligence into various aspects of society and work will require humans to engage in higher-order thinking to complement and guide AI systems effectively. This increased demand for critical thinking skills is a notable consequence of the AI-driven future.

AI-generated recommendations, complex problem-solving, interpreting the vast amounts of data Artificial Intelligence can process, and enforcing ethical considerations must be completed by humans. And creative, out-of-the-box thinking remains a uniquely human trait.

The Potential Risks of AI

Maintaining a healthy skepticism toward AI while embracing its transformative potential is key to unlocking its benefits. Skepticism prompts us to evaluate AI systems critically, ensuring they are ethically and securely deployed. So, what are the risks of AI on critical thinking?

Dependency on Artificial Intelligence

H. Chad Lane, associate chair and associate professor in the College of Education’s Educational Psychology department, likens the explosion of AI to that of televisions in the 1930s, “People were worried that no one was going to leave their home anymore, that they were going to watch TV all day long,” says Lane. “But that didn’t bear out.” [8]

Artificial Intelligence is Dependent on Human Intelligence

AI mimics human intelligence. It requires intelligent humans to program it and vast amounts of human content to learn from. Artificial Intelligence can only regurgitate the information it’s been fed.

Recognize AI Isn't Perfect

Generative Artificial Intelligence tools provide quick responses but may lack accuracy, mainly since ChatGPT’s knowledge is based on information available until September 2021. As a user, you must be able to use critical thinking, common sense, and additional research to validate answers provided by ChatGPT.

The language model even admits that it crafts responses that seem logical even if they don't contain accurate information because it’s designed to understand and generate human-like text. AI may also interpret a question differently from how it was intended or use outdated details – in the case of ChatGPT – whose knowledge base stopped in 2021.

Read More: The Best 9 ChatGPT Alternatives to Try Now

Communications, Voice, and Tone

Generative AI was designed to understand and generate human-like text – and that’s the key, “human-like.” While Artificial Intelligence can certainly be trained by feeding it examples and prompts, it's important to use the information it provides only as a starting point and refine the writing to fit your situation.

Final Thought

The growing sophistication of Artificial Intelligence has led to discussions about its impact on human critical thinking. However, AI can’t replace human critical thinking. While tools like ChatGPT can provide accurate responses, they excel at generating text rather than independent thought. To make the most of AI, humans must use prompts to identify relevant information and sift through AI-generated content.

While technology has altered cognitive development, with individuals improving at finding information online rather than memorizing it, human critical thinking is vital to evolving Artificial Intelligence. Humans oversee AI decisions, solve complex problems, interpret data, and address ethical concerns.

AI's integration into education, healthcare, and various industries highlights its potential to enhance human skills, including critical thinking. Maintaining a healthy skepticism about Artificial Intelligence while recognizing its dependence on human intelligence is crucial. Despite its capabilities, AI is not infallible and may only sometimes provide accurate information. Users must use critical thinking and validate AI responses.

The technology landscape is ever-changing, and understanding how to leverage technology to meet your growth and innovation goals is critical. Gigster specializes in Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT integrations, and we’re ready to partner with you to deliver technology that will give you a competitive edge while mitigating risk and cost.

We’ve helped companies like Colgate, Harley Davidson, Delta, Nike, Vodafone, and others across many industries to bring leading-edge innovations to life. Our uniquely positioned process and platform capitalize on emerging trends while managing the project and the talent for you through our white-glove engagement experience.

Resources:


1. University of Louisville (2023). What is Critical Thinking? — University of Louisville Ideas To Action. [online] Louisville.edu. Available at: https://louisville.edu/ideastoaction/about/criticalthinking/what.

2. Sparrow, Betsy, et al. “Google effects on memory: cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips.” Science (New York, N.Y.) vol. 333,6043 (2011): 776-8. doi:10.1126/science.1207745 Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21764755/

3. Elsen-Rooney, M. (2023). NYC blocks access to ChatGPT on school networks as cheating fears swirl. [online] Chalkbeat New York. Available at: https://ny.chalkbeat.org/2023/1/3/23537987/nyc-schools-ban-chatgpt-writing-artificial-intelligence

4. AI Will Transform Teaching and Learning. Let’s Get it Right.
https://hai.stanford.edu/news/ai-will-transform-teaching-and-learning-lets-get-it-right

5. Enhancing learners’ critical thinking skills with AI-assisted technology
https://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2023/03/30/enhancing-learners-critical-thinking-skills-with-ai-assisted-technology

6. TEAM International. (2022). Critical thinking is the most valued skill among innovative companies. [online] Available at: https://www.teaminternational.com/critical-thinking/

7. Critical Thinking and Artificial Intelligence
https://criticalthinkingsecrets.com/critical-thinking-and-artificial-intelligence/#:~:text=of%20the%20game.-,AI%3A%20An%20Aid%20to%20Critical%20Thinking,-The%20way%20that

8. How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Power New Learning in Education?
https://education.illinois.edu/about/news-events/news/article/2023/02/08/the-power-of-ai-in-education

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