Jan 18, 2024 - News

OpenAI launches first university partnership with Arizona State

A man talking at a dais.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during a session on AI during the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan. 18. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Arizona State University will become the first-ever higher education institution to partner with OpenAI, allowing the school full use of the company's flagship product, ChatGPT.

Why it matters: It comes as schools at all levels grapple with whether and how to embrace generative AI.

What's happening: The partnership will allow ASU faculty and staff to utilize the "advanced capabilities" of ChatGPT Enterprise to enhance teaching and learning, the university said in a press release.

  • ASU will ask professors to submit ideas for the new technology beginning in February.
  • The partnership will focus on increasing student success, finding new avenues for research and streamlining processes.

Zoom in: ASU chief information officer Lev Gonick first visited OpenAI's HQ six months ago and that spurred the partnership, he told CNBC.

  • He said ASU plans to use ChatGPT to build personalized AI tutors and offer writing help to students in one of its largest classes, Freshman Composition.
  • The ChatGPT partnership will also expand opportunities in the university's prompt engineering courses — one of ASU's most popular classes and a hot new job skill in the tech industry.

What they're saying: "ASU recognizes that augmented and artificial intelligence systems are here to stay, and we are optimistic about their ability to become incredible tools that help students to learn, learn more quickly and understand subjects more thoroughly," ASU president Michael Crow said in a statement.

Between the lines: Universities are traditionally slow to introduce new practical technology skills training to their class offerings, Axios' Megan Morrone reports.

  • Yes, but: Generative AI isn't going away. It's better to dive in and experiment and set guidelines, per Axios' AI+ author Ina Fried.

The intrigue: Laura Newinski, KPMG's chief operating officer, told Axios that when she addressed 800 KPMG interns this month, many said they were concerned they wouldn't know how to use generative AI — an expectation of working at KPMG — and complained they were "forbidden, discouraged or challenged about their use of generative AI" by professors and teachers.

  • Newinski said she found it "appalling" that when she questioned academics assembled in Davos on this point, the group told her they don't encourage AI because they don't know how to teach it, Axios' Ryan Heath reports.

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