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Speaking at the World Government Summit earlier this month, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said GPT-5 will be “smarter” and perhaps faster and more multimodal than previous versions of GPT. Altman apologized for perhaps sounding flippant in saying it would be “smarter,” but the OpenAI leader went on to explain that if the coming version of AI is smarter across the board, it is a truly significant improvement. This is not merely adding capabilities here and there—it is, rather, a holistic improvement.

There is a continuum of growth in size, speed, features and results that we are witnessing rolling out day by day and week by week. The competition among those leaders in this field is relentlessly driving small incremental improvement in the products. Yet, in a larger sense, we are also seeing generative AI improving in broad measures, as Altman suggests. As educators, we might say a student becomes smarter in the “four C’s” of holistic student improvement:

  • Critical thinking: Encouraging analytical and thoughtful decision-making.
  • Communication: Developing effective interpersonal and expressive skills.
  • Collaboration: Fostering teamwork, empathy and cooperation.
  • Creativity: Cultivating innovation and problem-solving abilities.

We see similar learning improvements when comparing undergraduate students to graduate students. Unfortunately, we in higher education, the faculty and administrators, are not getting smarter and more confident about generative AI at the same rapid rate.

A recent survey was conducted by Cengage and Bay View Analytics to better understand attitudes and concerns of higher education instructors and leadership. Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics, reported that only 16 percent of faculty and 11 percent of administrators felt prepared for the changes that generative AI will bring about in higher education. Seaman notes, “The delta between the expected impact of GenAI in higher education and the current ability of these organizations to adapt to this new technology is significant.”

It is critically important that we ensure our faculty and staff are prepared for the advent of more sophisticated AI tools as we move forward, because it is clear that advances are not slowing down. Truly revolutionary improvements will be upon us sooner than many of us may think. Those institutions that are prepared to take full advantage of the expanded abilities will surge ahead of their competition in efficiency, effectiveness and student outcomes, especially in preparation for the workplace, where AI skills are increasingly valued.

For example, some faculty members continue to rely upon ineffective tools to determine if assignments that are submitted have been written by generative AI. This is what I consider to be a misdirected approach to serving students. Generative AI applications are now fully capable of emulating the style and tone of the person prompting them. For example, here’s a recently posted routine that can effectively instruct a generative AI app to emulate your, or someone else’s, writing. This makes author detection very difficult if not impossible. Given the rate of computer-based tool adoption in business and industry, the distinction seems less relevant. If generative AI is considered as important a desktop tool as Excel, Word and Google search, the expectation to embed the product of these tools within daily work will be assumed.

As generative AI is more fully implemented in classrooms and workplaces, we are seeing new tools supported to enable chat bots to enter into work groups and teams. GPT-4 recently enabled the capability to add an additional GPT to a conversation. So, one may create a three-way conversation between oneself, a GPT and an additional GPT. This opens the possibility of discussions between chat bots. It more fully reflects the environment that is evolving in businesses and industry where generative AI views are afforded the respect and consideration that human staff is given.

Another recent advancement is the development of text-to-video capability. OpenAI earlier this month announced Sora, which is a feature of GPT-4 that will generate stunning videos from detailed prompt text descriptions. In recent months, we have seen the advent of a host of Zoom AI note-taker bots. These common tools can often provide complete transcripts of a Zoom call or an organized, annotated summary of key actions within the call. These are useful for a variety of reasons, including providing formal minutes of the meeting. Meanwhile, Gemini just announced that the 1.5 Pro edition can analyze massive files in a variety of formats, including video: “Gemini 1.5 Pro can take in ~700,000 words, or ~30,000 lines of code—35x the amount Gemini 1.0 Pro can handle. And—the model being multimodal—it’s not limited to text. Gemini 1.5 Pro can ingest up to 11 hours of audio or an hour of video in a variety of different languages.”

While the various versions of generative AI differ significantly, Ethan Mollick of the University of Pennsylvania reports that although the two leading apps have different strengths, Google’s Gemini Advanced has significantly improved to the point of approaching a level of parity with the leader, ChatGPT-4: “GPT-4 is much more sophisticated about using code and accomplishes a number of hard verbal tasks better—it writes a better sestina and passes the Apple Test. Gemini is better at explanations and does a great job integrating images and search. Both are weird and inconsistent and hallucinate more than you would like. I find myself using both Gemini Advanced and GPT-4, depending on circumstances.”

It is expected that GPT-5 will move OpenAI significantly closer to achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI). AutoGPT by Mindstream commented on the much-anticipated release of GPT-5 by OpenAI, noting in a report earlier this month,

“While ChatGPT 5 is expected to showcase significant advancements in natural language understanding and contextual conversation capabilities, it is still uncertain whether it will achieve true AGI. Most AI experts estimate that AGI is still years away, and current AI systems, including ChatGPT 5, are likely to remain focused on specific tasks and domains. However, the progress and advancements made by OpenAI’s GPT models indicate that the pursuit of AGI remains a priority and will continue to shape the AI landscape in the future.”

If we are rapidly approaching AGI, one wonders how long it will be before we see the next generation of this technology, artificial super intelligence (ASI). If you are unfamiliar with the term, USC Libraries defines it as, “Artificial superintelligence (ASI) refers to a hypothetical form of AI that surpasses human intelligence across all fields, from creative arts to scientific research. Unlike contemporary AI, which excels in specific tasks, ASI would be capable of outperforming the best human minds in every domain.” And what will ASI mean for the future of higher education?

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