All posts by JustErik

In the shadow of doubt

As professor Martinez Finished his PowerPoint, he quickly switched to another tab Displaying A.I.D.E.N., an artificial intelligence-based teaching assistant.

“Okay class, before we end today, allow me to introduce A.I.D.E.N. an AI software that the university will be utilizing. it has the capability to answer your questions. However, I encourage you to look for answers on your own. Don’t use this as a crutch for your learning. Think of it more as a supplementary tool.” Professor Martinez watched as the students’ eyes shifted towards the screen. A.I.D.E.N. displayed a friendly smile and a prompt to ask any questions.

A student cleared their throat and asked. “Professor, do you believe that A.I.D.E.N. could replace human teachers in the future? Like, entirely?”

Professor Martinez let out a chuckle. “Oh, I highly doubt that, but I wouldn’t put it past someone to try.”

As he finished speaking, a beep sounded, indicating that A.I.D.E.N. had a response to the student’s question.
“it is important to note that AI cannot replace the human connection and empathy that comes with learning from a real teacher. As Professor Martinez mentioned, AI should be viewed as a supplementary tool, not a replacement.”

“and on that note, we’ll end class there. Remember your essays are due tonight at 11:59 pm. I look forward to reading them. Make sure to properly cite.”

As the students began to pack their bags, Professor Martinez watched as A.I.D.E.N.’s screen dimmed. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something off about the AI. Maybe it was the way it spoke lacking any emotion.

Later as Professor Martinez sat in his office grading papers he heard a soft knock on his door. He looked up, surprised to see his student, Emily, standing in the doorway.

“Professor Martinez, can I talk to you for a minute?” Emily asked with an air of concern

“Of course, come on in take a seat,” Professor Martinez replied, setting his papers aside.

Emily took a deep breath before speaking. “I just wanted to talk to you about my essay. I know I didn’t do well and I tried my best, but I had a really hard time with it. And…A.I.D.E.N. wasn’t much help either.”

Professor Martinez’s eyebrows furrowed at the mention of A.I.D.E.N. “What do you mean? Did it not provide you with the proper information?”

Emily shook her head. “No, it did. But…it just felt like I was going in circles. I kept asking it to clarify but it just kept repeating the same answer. and I was getting so frustrated. There was no empathy or understanding.”

Professor Martinez nodded, “I see. Well, that’s one of the limitations of AI. It can provide information, but it cannot fully understand where we struggle where we really need help. That’s why it’ll never replace human interaction. I’m glad you came to me. So lets talk about your essay.”

I had a lot of trouble condensing this short story. Originality I wanted to write about Professor Martinez being overshadowed by A.I.D.E.N but as I was writing I thought of making it a struggle the students had to go through. I sat down for 15 mins and wrote so much dialogue, I gave Martinez a whole backstory, family, and A LOT of stress over the future of his future.
I used sudowrite for this cause, unlike ChatGPT it suggested different directions for this story to unfold. (funnily all the AI dialogue in this story came from AI). using it was a struggle due to the fact it was shifting the story into direction I did not want to go. It tried introducing several different characters, and even gave A.I.D.E.N a physical body and sentience. terrifying. It also kept repeating the phrase “human empathy and connection” at every point it could. Every prompt it had was surrounding that and nothing else. It had no drive to move the plot or add new ideas.
I started writing this story on paper and gave the characters depth and emotions: stress, love, connection, worry. But when I started to condense and use sudowrite it stuck to only human empathy. clearly showing the difference in AI and my own creativity.

The Nine Muses

Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope.
The nine muses of Greek mythology often given credit for the spark that led to many of the works of ancient philosophers and poets. Nowadays instead of attributing this spark to goddesses of art and music, we find our muses elsewhere. Yet we still give them the womanly and godly attributes. “My relationship with my muse is a delicate one at the best of times and I feel that it is my duty to protect her from influences that may offend her fragile nature Shecomes to me with the gift of song and in return I treat her with the respect I feel she deserves” (Cave). I have always comically referred to my muse as a divine woman (Though she took a sabbatical for a while) and it’s maybe due to the fact I love classic/ancient literature. I always look forward to this almost divine visit of inspiration.

Due to the current circumstances of my life, this muse of mine has been my comforting light. She joins me when I lay on my hammock on cold nights accompanied by the moon and the stars and thoughts that shouldn’t be given the grace to be uttered in the light of day. Okay maybe I’m being extra for a dramatic effect, but those who know, know.

To me this is the muse of all art : This undeniable spark of human experience, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (thanks Bill), embracing the bliss of solitude, rejoicing in someone’s arms, tenderly loving someone until their last day and losing them, having your heart broken and mended and broken once again, leaving home for the first time. I could go on and on for a hundred+ years and it still couldn’t envelope a crumb of the complete human experience, just mine. And to compare them would be an injustice to all muses “I am in competition with no-one”(cave)

Nick Cave said he is dancing on water lilies when he writes. When it comes to me, I write like the words have suddenly become poison and i have to get them out on paper(or my notes app). I have literally ran out rooms, stopped conversations, stopped eating or drinking and sometimes breathing. These words desire freedom, who am I to deny them the gift of existence.

okay okay okay enough on the maelstrom of poetic drama wrecking the harbor that is my brain and let me speak on my narrative short story. With the vast information that AI Programs have at their disposal, its hard not to feel overshadowed by it. We as humans can only do so much but it is in that limitation wherein truth of humanity is found. The human connection between teacher to student, student to student, or more generally speaking human to human. Can AI help you grow as a writer/student/human? No it only provides a shortcut to complacency. Can IT find pride in helping a student grasp a concept? No it can only grasp it (extremely weakly) for you. Can IT feel joy after a student struggling to understand and after the trials and tribulations, sweat, blood and tears (dramatization) finally truly utterly know. Lastly, can it understand the joys of teaching? NO.
I’m still struggling myself to use AI in this narrative. It almost feels like a cop-out to use it, to have it feed me ideas, plot points and dialogue that seems as shallow as a rain puddle. I often ask for constructive criticism from my literary peer, but they don’t take over my story, they open new paths to walk on my own . Its a fine line to walk and not fall into a life of complacency.

Here Comes The Finale

Personally, I hate endings. There’s always so much more to say and add to any experience, specially one such as this course. Alas! they cannot be avoided and we must digest everything spoken, written, shown, and apply it to our own little weird worlds.

Regardless of my feelings towards the end of this course, I’m excited for the final project. To write for class, whether its about First Year Composition and the standards they’re required to follow or reactions to research studies, there is no joy behind it. So when it was revealed that the final project for this is a short story, I felt a rush of excitement followed by some feelings of nervousness. As it is known to this class and any readers of this blog I am a poet. Though I’m not used to writing more than 30 lines of verse, I am not a unfamiliar with writing pages of prose. I am an avid gamer of the tabletop role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. (For the fans: Tiefling, rouge, which i sometimes multiclass with warlock with a criminal background). For theses stories I have to create extensive backstories with tons of hints at world building. I digress.

For the final project, I am set on on building upon the first prompt that ChatGPT gave me. “As Professor Martinez struggled with the pressure of his upcoming lecture, he couldn’t ignore the increasingly intelligent AI teaching assistant that seemed to overshadow him in the classroom.” My favorite feeling is reading a prompt and immediately see where the story can go. However, I cannot see how I can integrate the use of ChatGPT. When I write I tend to stay away from any outside influence (other than the vast amounts of literature and media I’ve consumed). That is what I believe my biggest struggle will be. I wont lie I’ve used ChatGPT to spell check and potential Grammatical errors but to use it influence my ideas and plot ideas……that’s a line I’m not sure I want to cross.

Faulty Algorithm

This course focuses on the human nature of writing. How we as humans have such a uniqueness, that even if we tried to remove it, finds its way into our artistic creations. It could be the idiosyncrasies in the way we write or the way our hands move on their own when painting, the crack in our voice when we are confessing our love, the rhetoric we use in speeches we create or our experiences that unknowingly slip into our narratives. What a wonderfully human phenomenon. However, one more thing slips past no matter how much we fight it, Bias. Commentary on a social issue, the harsh critique a work of a younger or woman author, or the writings of a political opponent. Biases slip past us unconsciously in writing and most definitely in our AI.

AI is a creation of man, and no matter how much we as humans attempt to detach ourselves from it our Biases they do slip in. Joy Buolamwini’s Ted Talk on bias in algorithm sheds light on the way “Algorithmic bias can also lead to exclusionary experiences and discriminatory practices.” mentioning that AI facial recognition software cannot recognize her face but has no issue recognizing her peers of a lighter complexion and even masks. In spite of this she made a point to stay positive and mention that it is a flaw of our own creation and there are many ways we can combat this.

She makes the mention of police departments using unregulated AI networks, that have not been audited for accuracy. Which is terrifying. If eye witness testimony can’t be trusted, how can we trust software that can’t accurately and without bias recognize a variety of faces. Imagine the amount innocent people who would be accused of crimes they did not commit due to faulty algorithms. One specific phrase stuck out to me “We now have the opportunity to unlock even greater equality if we make social change a priority and not an afterthought.” Even when facing such a unfathomable social issue we can take steps in correcting them. AI is not naturally occurring, we create it, and evolve it. So together we can push it to a version of itself where it can be an inclusive software.

I want to end this portion of this blog post with a few lines from my all time favorite poem. Desiderata by Max Ehrmann .

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

AI in Education

Having no interesting in the field of pedagogy, I agree with the decision of some schools that have already banned ChatGPT from their servers to prevent students from what they would consider “cheating”. However, I commend the intentions of Katherine Schulten article Lesson Plan: Teaching and Learning in the Era of ChatGPT. If you scroll through my blog, you’ll find it more than a few negative comment of the effects of AI on education. Though she gives positive uses of AI the classroom. She has created lesson plans on how to effectively inform students on chatbots. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Students will find methods of using AI and incorporating them into their work. whether using it to “cheat” or augment their work they must be made aware of the potential misuses. This begins in the classrooms.

Use Your Authentic Voice

Over this break I was at a wedding. One of my closest friends was getting married to his fiancé (now wife) of 5 years. It was a beautiful event I got to see my friends dressed to the nines, me and my partner also got to dress up, and I got to privilege to hear the groom & brides vows and my other friends best man speech (though the best man’s speech was influence by a concoction of Hennessey, Moscow mules and tequila his voice was felt throughout the venue.

obligatory wedding picture

Their love, souls and emotions cascaded into their words. It was as authentic as authenticity can be. Something so human cannot be replicated. I’m sure that if i transcribe it on to paper (digitally?) and run it thru it would be 100 % human.

When I read the article I got a wave of relief, immediately followed by a wave of dread (there’s a duality of man joke there but I digress).

Let me explain my dread first. 1) there’s no free trial. if its being used by educators its another expense for them, and as every educator you don’t go into education for the money. Also schools/education programs are extremely under funded. 2) Its’s for profit. The tool costs $0.01 per 100 words to scan (equal to 1 credit) $20: 2,000 credits $50: 5,000 credits $100: 10,000 credits $250: 25,000 credits $500: 50,000 credits. Imagine the bill college professors would rack up using these on essays, term papers and dissertations. Now for some relief. 1) authenticity is my main concern with Ai and although you can tell when its been, since it lacks voice [humanity?], having a tool that tells you what percentage is AI is bound to be helpful. 2) The creation of this Ai detection tool is bringing to light the ability for Ai’s abuse. We in the field of writing have already noticed its existence and impact but shining a light on it will make this issue mainstream.

the Carlow University article speaks on how to find and develop your voice. It ends with the words “as a writer, you have to set yourself apart”. Which is what we want as creatives. To stand out, to say look at this thing I’ve created, and to induce the same emotions you felt while creating it, in others. (at least that’s what I want) Diction, Syntax, Imagery, Tone etc. an amalgamation of all these terms, plus a lot more, is what makes your writing unique and what makes it yours. It’s also what connects you to your audience, cause regardless if its 1, 10s, 1000s or millions of readers your unique spark of creativity is what will reach them.

Educators, AI, and (my) Anxiety

The articles this week did not help my ever growing anxieties about AI. Alberto Romero article opened up some new avenues of anxiety. I had only thought of ChatGPT assisting human on writing, grammar, essay prompts, (bad) poetry, and then he started to list off the other AI programs being created by: google, facebook, the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI). He even went as far as claiming ChatGPT as OBSOLETE. With the speed that AI is upgraded, how far have these programs progresses since this article’s publication date (Aug 7, 2021).

 It may not replace us from being writers, but the price of our work would decrease significantly, even if the value we produce is constant.

Alberto Romero

This quote struck at my creative anxiety hard, (the wine im drinking isn’t helping) because if the ease of creating articles and essays with AI making established writers uncomfortable, imagine how I am feeling, a novice attempting to enter the medium of publishing my own thoughts and creative endeavors. If someone can just have AI write for them and just “edit” their voice in what chance is there for me who wants to organically create. It doesn’t help that Romero ends the article with personifying AI and suggesting that we befriend it, rather than use it sparingly or intelligently or anything other way that doesn’t attempt to give it life.

in Erik Ofgang article Free AI Writing Tools Can Write Essays in Minutes. What Does That Mean for Teachers? he directs the anxiety to the Pedagogical field, a field im reluctant to join but its not out of the question. In it he relates the usage of AI to plagiarism. Which is the right direction in my opinion, however how can you identify AI writing when its being used in conjunction with the student. Like I mentioned above, you can edit your voice in to the writings it generates. Ofgang cites an op-ed in The Guardian which suggest repositories where papers can be checked for plagiarism and restrictions and age-verification systems but these are surface level restrictions only meant to limit misuse. I can think of several way of bypassing these systems which I wont go into.


Ofgang ends the article with a AI generated passage and a comment “it may not win a Pulitzer but it’s probably good enough to get a good grade“. Therein lies the rub. Students who regularly enlist the help of AI are doing it to cut corners, to not have to do the work and just get the grade. Maybe the importance we place upon grades for accomplishing the task is to blame for this snowball turned avalanche. Students only caring about a getting passing grade rather than genuinely learning the skills necessary to writing proficiently. Who is to blame then? the students utilizing a tool, or the decades of value placed on a outdated grading system.

Forgive and forget but your scars will remember

Joyce Dorado & Vicki Zakrzewski How to Help a Traumatized Child in the Classroom resonated with me greatly. In my personal life and in previous classes I have not been shy to express my dislike of children and of teaching them. HOWEVER! Children are innocent, and their job until they become adults is to [safely] experience life and find the path they wish to pursue. (and now the sad part) traumatic experiences in the developmental years of children are moments that will scar especially ones occurring at home, the place your suppose to be safe.

Dorado & Zakzewski speak on Complex Trauma [repeated & prolonged exposure to traumatic situations especially in care-giving situations] and make such an impactful analogy of a vinyl record with a scratch running deeper than its grooves. This analogy goes deeper than that paragraph delves. A scratch in record is essentially permanent. Like scars, whether mental or physical, they are ever present. The only difference is children can heal with proper resources and the guiding hand of others. Which leads into my favorite part of this article.

Strategies for teachers

I cant express how relieved I was when I saw this section. Many articles will bring an issue to light, make a call to action, and seldom give advice on how to do so, even on how to begin! But this one actually had advice on what to do! I love it! i wont go into complete detail on all of them, just the three I feel are the most most most most most important.

  1. Recognition: being able to recognize when a student will enter a “survival mode” fight or flight. Recognizing the signs of it is important to intervene before things get worse. This will also create a trust between educator and student.
  2. Praise publicly and criticize privately: The way I felt this section in the deepest core of my soul. I’ve had teachers call me out for poor work in middle and high school and the shame and embarrassment that surged through me was unholy. So nurturing these children and doing exactly what the title says.
  3. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself.
    how can educators ever begin to help students if they themselves haven’t healed from trauma. You cant save someone from drowning if your 6 feet underwater. Dorado & Zakzewski link an incredible article which speak on this more thoroughly.

The Body Keeps Score

Oh boy does it ever. The section given of this book elucidated the grasp trauma has on our memories. on page 177 it mentioned a case study of WWII soldiers recalling memories. The soldiers without them altered memories given in early statements while the ones who suffered PTSD did not. Trauma having such roots in our psyche that not even time can warp it. On the very next page it states “the more adrenalin you secrete, the more precise your memory will be” to a point. A breaking point.

Small Trauma Dump

I’ve dealt with loss, violence, betrayal, etc. and unfortunately (for me) I’m a very reserved person. I internalize a lot of things, keep them close to the chest. I always hold back on sharing personal strife, probably has something to do with my childhood. (Thanks Freud, somehow this is your fault. lets not delve too far into it. seems more like a conversation for therapy 😅) what got me out of this maelstrom in my high school years was High school English teacher Mrs.DiSarro. Her classroom door was always open to her students, we were free to borrow books from her Bookshelves. She even figured out I wanted to study English before I had told anyone, when I was helping my classmates with the interpretation of colors in the texts we were reading. One of her classrooms “Do Now” was to write about the daily prompt in a composition notebook and hand it in after class. It was my favorite part of the Part of my dreadful school days. I felt such an appreciation for her I even made a wooden bathroom pass for her classroom, [hope she still has it]. Just having an educator make a safe space for you to be in, to relax, to escape to heal.