Vanderbilt University staff have apologized for using ChatGPT to write a condolence email following the Michigan State University shooting that killed three students.
Officials with the Office of Justice, Diversity and Inclusion at Peabody College admitted “poor judgment” in using the OpenAI chatbot for the email.
“The recent Michigan shootings are a tragic reminder of the importance of looking out for one another, particularly in the context of creating an inclusive environment,” read the first email from the university’s School of Education.
And it added, “As members of the Peabody campus community, we need to think about the impact of an event like this and take action to ensure we’re doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.”
At the bottom of the email was a note that said “Paraphrase from OpenAI’s ChatGPT”. ChatGPT is an AI language model that writes human-sounding but computer-generated text.
The email drew an angry reaction from students at the Nashville-based university.
“It’s a sick and twisted irony to get a computer to write your message about community and togetherness because you don’t bother to think about it yourself,” said Laith Kayat, a senior college student whose sister is at Michigan State University visited The Vanderbilt Hustler.
A Peabody associate dean later apologized in a follow-up email, according to the college newspaper.
“While we believe in the message of inclusivity expressed in the email, using ChatGPT to generate communications on behalf of our community at a time of mourning and in response to tragedy goes against the values that define Peabody College ‘ said Nicole Joseph.
“As with all new technologies impacting higher education, this moment gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we know about AI and what we still need to learn.”
The 43-year-old man, who is accused of killing three and wounding five in a Michigan State University shooting before turning the gun on himself, was found with a note detailing threats against two other schools , the authorities say.
Police identified the shooter in Monday’s shooting as Anthony McRae. He is believed to have no connection to MSU.
The Independent has reached out to Vanderbilt University and Peabody College for comment.