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F&M Stories

Student Startup Promotes Responsible AI Use

As the use of artificial intelligence becomes increasingly common, a recent F&M grad and a current student hope to harness the power of AI to help students learn.

Kirin Sawasdikosol 鈥24 said the launch of OpenAI鈥檚 ChatGPT in 2022 caught his attention and made him consider the impact that AI chatbots could have on students.

鈥淚t鈥檚 very clear that this is going to be a very impactful technology on the world as well as education,鈥 Sawasdikosol said. 

He noted that students are already using AI chatbots to complete assignments. As the large language models that the chatbots run on improve, AI-generated text is increasingly difficult to spot. 

Sawasdikosol and his collaborator, rising junior Dilrabo Kodirova, wanted to develop a product that encourages students to use AI responsibly. The result is a software startup, UniMind, which Sawasdikosol plans to launch publicly now that he has graduated.

The software gives professors more control over whether and how AI is used by students. Faculty set parameters on the use of AI to complete assignments; the software warns students if they violate those guidelines, and alerts professors to the presence of AI-generated text.

Sawasdikosol and Kodirova don鈥檛 want to discourage the use of AI entirely, though. Their product also includes AI tools to support students by answering questions or helping them find information from assigned materials. 

鈥淲e鈥檙e creating a fine-tuned AI that responds in a specific way for their specific class,鈥 Sawasdikosol said. 

UniMind鈥檚 AI tools would be trained on specific course materials to provide more accurate information, and educators could choose specific ways that the AI would respond to students鈥 inquiries. 

Sawasdikosol and Kodirova began work on the project in October 2023. Kodirova, a computer science major, was eager for an opportunity to apply what she was studying.

鈥淚 thought, whatever happens, I鈥檒l improve my technical skills,鈥 she said.

In spring 2024, the project became an internship for credit. Alan S. Glazer, Henry P. and Mary B. Stager Professor of Business, was the faculty sponsor.

鈥淭he internship structure accelerated the work that we would have been doing already,鈥 Sawasdikosol said. The pair were also advised by Eileen Ellis 鈥95, a sales executive at the cloud technology company Oracle, who offered insight into the educational technology industry.

While students and instructors will need to adapt to the presence of AI, both in the classroom and on the job market, Sawasdikosol doesn鈥檛 think the use of AI makes education any less vital. To use AI effectively and ethically, students still need critical thinking skills and the ability to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject. 

鈥淲e鈥檙e focusing on how we integrate AI as a tool for the learning process, rather than just how we get your assignment done as quickly as possible,鈥 Sawasdikosol said.

While he and Kodirova are optimistic about the potential of AI, they are aware that decisions made now will determine how AI will shape the future. 

鈥淚鈥檓 very concerned about the transition,鈥 Sawasdikosol said. 鈥淲hat we鈥檙e trying to build at our company is part of that. We鈥檙e trying to ensure the proper transition to an AI world, and that鈥檚 about using AI responsibly.鈥

Kodirova agreed that, as with any new technology, the positive or negative effects of AI will depend on how it鈥檚 used. 

鈥淚 think that with AI, if we鈥檙e able to regulate and make sure that people use it ethically, we鈥檒l be able to take the advantages without worsening our situation,鈥 she said.

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