A College Assignment for the A.I. Era

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the robots.

Jordan Shapiro
8 min readJun 23, 2024


This image was generated by Artificial Intelligence (Adobe Firefly).

Every college professor I know is complaining about students using artificial intelligence to complete their work. Students ask A.I. to summarize the readings, write comments and contributions for class discussions, and of course, to write their papers. For my online summer course, I thought it might be helpful to have students start the semester by considering the implications and limitations of artificial intelligence.

Here is the assignment:


(Please read this article by Noam Chomsky about ChatGPT and language acquisition).

Artificial intelligence is not new, but the Large Language Models (LLM) that allow CoPilot, Gemini, ChatGPT, and Perplexity to write in ways that resemble human conversation are on everyone’s minds these days. Especially educators. That’s because teachers have been focused on basic argumentation and rhetorical skills for a very long time.

I should probably take a moment to explain what I mean by RHETORICAL SKILLS. Let’s start with a dictionary definition — from the Oxford English Dictionary:

rhetoric, n. The art of using language effectively so as to persuade or influence others.



Jordan Shapiro

I wrote some books - Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad & The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World. I teach at Temple University.