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Can an AI Chatbot Earn an MBA?

Professor's experiment raises concerns

Photo by Caleb Woods / Unsplash

The headlines generated by artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT have caused many to wonder if there’s anything the technology can’t achieve. And a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s famous Wharton Business School has decided to put ChatGPT through its paces, to determine how it would fare in an MBA (Master of Business Administration) exam.

The Wharton School, whose alumni includes Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk, is the world’s oldest school of business having been established in 1881. Christian Terwiesch, a professor in Wharton’s Operations, Information and Decisions department, discussed his experiment in a newly-published whitepaper entitled ‘Would ChatGPT3 Get a Wharton MBA?

The whitepaper makes for an interesting read. While Terwiesch notes that the chatbot proves adept at automating “some of the skills of highly compensated knowledge workers in general and specifically the knowledge workers in jobs held by MBA graduates including analysts, managers, and consultants,” he also points out that it can make surprising mistakes “in relatively simple calculations at the level of 6th grade Math.”

Ultimately, his experiment found that ChatGPT3 was capable of achieving a B to B- grade on the exam, a discovery that will have “important implications for business school education, including the need for exam policies” and “curriculum design focusing on collaboration between human and AI.”

A number of professors have raised concerns about the prospect of students wielding ChatGPT3 to cheat on their exams, with one suggesting that students should return to handwritten work, in addition to oral and class discussions.

The cost of a Wharton MBA isn’t exactly cheap: the price for a two-year program for the class entering in 2023 is a princely $223,500. The MBA is considered a golden ticket to high-paid employment, with Penn’s MBA Careers Report showing that among the 2022 graduates of the program, 98.7% received full-time job offers. What’s more, the class had a median starting salary of $175,000.

There are seemingly no limits to the use cases of the AI tool, with even novelists turning to ChatGPT to help automate their creative work. Microsoft is reportedly now in talks to invest $10bn into the chatbot’s owner, Open AI.