As Students Embrace AI, Expert Warns of Negative Impacts

A photo taken on March 31, 2023 in Manta, near Turin, shows a computer screen with the home page of the artificial intelligence OpenAI web site, displaying its chatGPT robot. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

PHNOM PENH – As students are embracing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help their academic studies, an expert warns them not to depend too much on such technology as it could have negative impacts on their performance and ways of thinking.

In higher education, the use of AI is being democratized as a tool to do research and gain efficiency in gaining basic information and writing essays.

Thong Vanyaro, a third-year student at the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh said that AI really helps him with his university work.

He uses different AI platforms – like ChatGPT, Grammarly or QuillBot – to combine documents, find new sources or extract information.

“AI has helped my university study by contributing to the revision of the assignments assigned by the teachers. The use of AI in the digital age 4.0 is promoting education as well as a large number of research papers in the university,” Thong Vanyaro said.

A​ similar story goes to ex-student Neal Malay who has also used AI to help her studies. She said AI helps her work faster.

“I think the new development of AI is very impressive. AI can help in many ways and can produce content that is very convenient. For example, chat GPT has many functions and can answer almost every question,” Malay said. 

Moreover, she said AI helped her a lot during her university years. As most of her studies required a lot of self-research, she relied on AI to gain knowledge and check her work. She also used such tools to avoid plagiarism.

“I usually used Chat GPT, Quillbot, Capcut, and other generator tools,” she said.

Over the past ten years, the word AI has been used in a variety of ways. In simple terms, it refers to automation software capable of efficiently analyzing a multitude of data to answer a question. According to the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Cambodia (KAS), it can distinguish between important and unimportant information, and calculate customized solutions from large datasets.

Chy Sophat, a well-known technology content creator in Cambodia, agrees the use of AI is convenient for students.

However, he warned them about the negative impacts of such powerful tools, which can lower their ability to think and deliver quality work.

He added the level of education of students in Cambodia is not good enough to make sure they would use AI tools carefully. “Some are not aware of the limits of these tools and might use them the wrong way,” he said.

Sophat said that using AI requires proficiency in English, which creates a language barrier for many users.

“Setting up a Khmer version of AI tools will not be easy as the Khmer language is known to be difficult to use when programming,” he said.

The digital government committee plans to launch ChatGPT in Khmer for the government sector, the private sector, and the public after the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication had been using it on trial for six months in 2023.

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