• Peabody College at Vanderbilt University apologized for using ChatGPT to write a sensitive email.
  • The message asked students to “come together” following a shooting at Michigan State University.

Staff at Vanderbilt University have apologised for “poor judgement” after using ChatGPT to write a condolence email in the wake of Monday’s shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead.

The email was sent on Thursday by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University’s school of education, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Addressed to the “Peabody Family,” the five-paragraph email said: “The recent Michigan shootings are a tragic reminder of the importance of taking care of each other, particularly in the context of creating inclusive environments.”

It continued: “As members of the Peabody campus community, we must reflect on the impact of such an event and take steps to ensure that we are doing our best to create a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

If the tone sounds robotic, that’s because it is. A note at the bottom of the email said: “Paraphrase from OpenAI’s ChatGPT.”

In a follow-up email, cited by student newspaper The Vanderbilt Hustler, an associate dean at Peabody apologized for “poor judgement.”

Nicole Joseph wrote: “While we believe in the message of inclusivity expressed in the email, using ChatGPT to generate communications on behalf of our community in a time of sorrow and in response to a tragedy contradicts the values that characterize Peabody College.”

She continued: “As with all new technologies that affect higher education, this moment gives us all an opportunity to reflect on what we know and what we still must learn about AI.”

The email produced furious responses from some students.

Laith Kayat, a senior at Vanderbilt University whose sister attends Michigan State University, told The Vanderbilt Hustler: “There is a sick and twisted irony to making a computer write your message about community and togetherness because you can’t be bothered to reflect on it yourself.”

Peabody College and Vanderbilt University did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

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