I wonder if I were a student today whether I’d try to have a chatbot do some of my homework. My knee-jerk response is to complain about the ethics of it, but I’m not sure that it’s so simple. While I went to law school in the 2000s, the bulk of my formal education had taken place last century. The big debate when I was in high school was whether to allow calculators–the graphing calculator was new and controversial–on tests or whether it was an unfair advantage. That probably seems quaint and antiquated today.

And what about today? Hell, I don’t know if a chatbot constitutes an unfair advantage, since one could use one in the workplace. It’s still up to the student to ensure that the information is accurate. We’ve all read about lawyers who are in the finding out phase of citing phantom case law as precedent, so students deserve the failing grades they’d get whether they or the chatbot just wholesale bullshitted a paper.

If/when the chatbot can bullshit as well as a human, why would we continue to teach kids how to use the equivalent of a slide rule? Penmanship used to be a thing, but when printers are way more legible and we can type faster, so goes that skill as unnecessary. With chatbots, the skill may evolve away from writing and become the ability to craft a decent prompt and then fact-checking it. Has the game just evolved?