The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

AI may pose a threat to student privacy

In today’s climate where technology is seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, the educational sphere has not been left untouched. One of the latest developments is the use of artificial intelligence in online education, tools like ChatGPT and OtterAI have snuck their way into student’s lives and Zoom calls. This venture into the AI realm has raised questions and concerns about both convenience and privacy for many students here at SSU.

Last Tuesday before an online meeting, my Zoom had automatically updated itself and the application unknowingly presented a new tool called OtterPilot. According to their website, “OtterPilot is the smart AI meeting assistant that automates meetings from start to finish… OtterPilot can save time and increase productivity by eliminating the need to take manual notes.”

The AI presented as a participant during the meeting and afterwards, attendees were sent emails with a full transcript of what was said. This having been my first encounter with OtterPilot, confusion was undeniable and apprehension began to swirl.

Fellow students have expressed their concerns about the AI’s accuracy when transcribing dialogue, “Having AI technology listen in on my conversations and generating transcripts is worrisome and considering that it’s not guaranteed to be 100% error free, I wouldn’t want any false information sent out after,” said undeclared first year Delia Rantissi.  Although some might view this tool as a helpful extension, additional concerns about who has access to these transcripts and how they might be used cannot go unnoticed.

Having never heard of OtterAI before, “It sounds invasive on students’ Zoom privacy and I think even though there are many benefits from using AI, there should be an option to opt in or out of it” said Bryan Peeso, a fourth year environmental science major.

Zoom users are able to choose whether they would like to utilize this tool or not, if they wish to maintain a higher level of privacy. It is crucial that institutions are prioritizing transparency and student choice to ensure a harmonious coexistence of technology and privacy in the virtual classroom.

According to Sonoma State’s website, “Universities are not banning the use of AI. Rather, they are encouraging safe, analytical, ethical use of these tools.” While acknowledging the preservation of our academic freedom, we are encouraged to explore these tools and maintain academic integrity. This is something to beware of, considering the unreliability of most AI.

Associate Vice President of Government Relations and Strategic Communications Jeffrey Keating tells us that “SSU is vigilant about ensuring data and privacy protection elements within AI technologies meeting the state’s standards.” Additionally, “OtterPilot software is no longer recommended for use and should not have been part of any Zoom call on campus” Keating added.

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About the Contributor
Nicolette Bolich, Staff Writer
Nicolette Bolich is a fourth year communication major at Sonoma State.
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