Study links excessive AI use to poorer performance

Are you using too much ChatGPT? Study links AI use to sinking academic performance, memory loss.

Study links excessive AI use to poorer performance
Image Credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Kemper

Using ChatGPT much? Study links AI use to sinking academic performance, memory loss.

A new study conducted interviews with 494 students about their use of ChatGPT.

  • Some admitted to being "addicted" to its use.
  • Locked in vicious cycle of procrastination.
  • Use it to complete assignments on time.

The result of excessive use?

  • Impact on memory retention,
  • cognitive function, and
  • critical thinking abilities.

Crucially, these students had poor grade averages.

To ChatGPT or not

When ChatGPT came out, I was worried. After all, I write for a living. Will AI put me out of work?

It didn't help that an MIT Technology Review article covered a 2023 study that found how "poor writers got much better; [and] good writers simply got a little faster."

Well, almost 18 months on and having used various generative AI tools daily, my views have changed somewhat.

To properly appreciate the impact of ChatGPT, we need to look at it from the perspective of learners or seniors - the latter being users with substantial experience gained without AI.

Stumbling learners

Based on the new study, it is clear that ChatGPT use can stymie the learning journey for beginners by building an unhealthy dependency.

In fact, Reddit is full of college students highlighting their love-hate relationship with ChatGPT, with many bemoaning how its use has crippled their understanding of core coding concepts.

The problem includes those just starting out. An IT architect overseeing 70 developers shared how senior developers are now no longer coaching but proofreading.

The architect wrote: "I'm worried that usage of these tools is going to burn out my Seniors and make it so that the Junior devs are never ready to step into a senior role."

Empowering seniors

What about "seniors", or someone already experienced in writing or coding tasks?

At a luncheon in Feb, I was seated beside a deputy chief executive at a government tech agency. He told me how generative AI had empowered senior developers to produce substantially better output in much less time.

Personally, I've also found generative AI extremely helpful in certain writing tasks. With selective use, I was able to complete writing projects quicker than initial estimates.

And no, I don't use AI wholesale - the raw output of GPT-4 and Claude 3 just doesn't cut it, regardless of prompting. Thing is, I can clearly see where it falls short, while the same me from 5 years ago might not.

My revised opinion

So here's my revised viewpoint: With AI, strong writers/coders will get better. On the other hand, unfretted use by learners can harm their learning journey.

What are your thoughts about AI use?