Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Academia

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Academia

“Generative AI has enormous potential for good and evil at a large scale. Its creators themselves have warned that a much bigger, potentially catastrophic and existential risks lie ahead. Without actions to address these risks, we are derelict in our responsibilities to present and future generations” concluded the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, in his remarks to the Security Council on Artificial Intelligence on 18 July 2023. The growing usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) positively and negatively shapes several domains in the world, especially academia.

Artificial intelligence is a vast branch of computer science concerned with the capability of gadgets and computer systems to carry out activities that need human cognition. It is generally expressed by the public as the ability of computers or machines to act and think in a way that humans do. It represents the efforts towards computerized systems to imitate the human mind and actions. Siri, Alexa, self-driving cars, Robo-advisors, talking bots, and email spam filters are some of the examples of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence was introduced as a pioneer technique that can create a revolution in several domains of the human life, including the domain of education.


Like in other sectors, artificial intelligence is a major development in academia. Positively, artificial intelligence customizes learning by adapting the learning content to satisfy the individual needs of students. Also, it can automate the administrative tasks, such as grades and tabulation, and allows teachers more space to focus on regulations. Furthermore, artificial intelligence can contribute to determining students’ behavioral patterns which, in turn, allows teachers to intervene as early as possible when students have problems. Therefore, it contributes to improving the total quality of education and enhancing the students’ learning experience.

Moreover, artificial intelligence offers various learners links about the topics required by the subject matter and eases and inspires both learner and tutor by addressing different learning styles such as autonomous learning, visual learning, e-learning, audio-visual learning, and deep learning. Equally, AI enables the tutor to select and apply the learning method taxonomy that the learner needs and highlights the areas of improvement to be focused on. Meanwhile, AI reinforces independent learning as the learner becomes autonomous and free to access input anytime and anywhere.


“Artificial intelligence helps in the creation of knowledgeable teaching systems that can be accessed at any time and place so as to direct learners in their education process” asserted Dr Matiza, Midlands State University lecturer. “These act as digital mentors that help in offering real time individualized feedback and explanations as they are capable of breaking down difficult theories into understandable concepts hence enhancing better comprehension.”

In support of the above, Dr Dube, University of Zimbabwe lecturer posited that; “The aptitude of artificial intelligence systems to scrutinize countless amounts of data, create insights and find patterns have enabled both researchers and students to make revolutionary discoveries and shed more light on complex phenomena.”

However, artificial intelligence has a negative effect on academia as it contributes to academic dishonesty and the propagation of plagiarism in academic research. Numerous University students now heavily rely on artificial intelligent content to write their assignments and other forms of academic research. It is now difficult to differentiate between artificial intelligent generated content and original work.

“Assignments are easy to write these days” boasted Mukudzei, a University of Zimbabwe Student. “Artificial intelligent tools such as chatgpt, gemini ai, toolbaz ai, phind ai amongst others allows me to write my assignment within minutes”


This spread of artificial intelligence in academia renders certifications and degrees close to useless as numerous half-baked graduates are being produced. The entire purpose of education is to promote critical thinking, creativity and innovation. However, the use of artificial intelligence is stifling this as students simply resort to copying and pasting its generated content other than be guided by it to creatively think.

The use of artificial intelligence in academia reduces the students to mere recipients and conduits of information other than the creators of that information. Students no longer brainstorm, discuss and debate about ideas but rather rely on the answers of artificial intelligence.

Dr Musanga, Midlands State University lecturer commended that; “This is sad, students are relying on the wisdom of artificial intelligence making them fail to grapple with complex issues and ideas. My main worry is the future of these students and nation. These are the adults of tomorrow, the ones who will run companies and head organizations. Such laziness destroys industries instead of developing them”

It is of vital importance for people to acknowledge the advantages of artificial intelligence in academia as well as it negative impacts that have to be addressed. Artificial intelligence should be there to improve education not to stifle it. Strategies have to be implemented to foster a culture of innovation, creativity and critical thinking. This disease of laziness which is being caused by artificial intelligence is not only common in academia but numerous industries. The question remains; Is artificial intelligence bad or it is just the failure of humans to use a good tool?

By Mathew M.T Magwarada

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